Mid 90s release Kato and Atas diesels

Atlas 080 Jul 30, 2019

  1. Atlas 080

    Atlas 080 TrainBoard Member

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    Has anybody put decoders in Nscale SD40 from Kato or GP30 from Atlas/Kato? I purchased these locos in mid 1990s and want to put decoders in them. Any advice?
     
  2. NtheBasement

    NtheBasement TrainBoard Member

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    I used these guys for similar locos. I was under the impression though that they were closing shop. http://www.aztectrains.com/dccframes.html
    You send in a frame and they send back one that has been milled out to accept the decoder and grooves to run wires. After you get a frame back you have to solder in your decoder. Not fun because the wires are so small. I used DZ126's. Ran about $35 per loco; don't do this with any loco that isn't running perfectly - not worth it.
     
  3. bman

    bman TrainBoard Member

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    The owner of Aztec retired and sold his machine shop. It's noted on the website's home page.
    I see there are products still listed for sale on the link provided above though. I don't know if they are still taking orders or not.
    I've a fleet of the GP30/35 mechanisms that I plan to convert someday. Train Control Systems, or TCS, makes a split light board decoder for these locomotives. It's still a hard wire installation with a little frame modification needed. There should be info on the TCS installation page of their website.
    https://tcsdcc.com/1286

    I haven't installed one of these but a couple of folks in our club have and I've heard no complaints so all must be good.
    I've also been looking at the LokPilot micro V4.0 from ESU. These are pretty small and would be a bit more of an install over the TCS
    decoder, but it looks as though it could possibly be done without any frame modifications. I've not studied it in detail yet as I'm trying to clear the modeling bench of other projects at the moment.
     
  4. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    The TCS split board decoders are not what I would call an easy install for a novice. They are not overly difficult once you acquire the skills in taking apart a mechanism. Start with the rather simple installs where you do not have to isolate the motor from the frame but just replace the light board with the decoder board. The are instructions online for various models.
     
  5. johnh

    johnh TrainBoard Member

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    Atlas still shows Mainframes for the GP35. The Kato guts would fit but you lose a bit of weight. You might call Kato to see if they have any of the DCC ready frames available from the DCC runs. I have done this in the past. You just have to hardwire the motor to the decoder pads.
     
  6. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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    I used a TCS CN-GP, and it really was an easy install. I did it a few years back and I did minimal grinding with my Dremel
     
  7. randgust

    randgust TrainBoard Member

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    The Kato-made GP's for Atlas are head and shoulders above the "Classics" for performance, weight, run much quieter, and they also run in perfect RPM harmony with the Kato early-run SD40's, SD45's, U30C's, and U33C's.

    I think it's worth the fight.
     
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  8. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member

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    Still my favorite locomotives!
     
  9. Rich_S

    Rich_S TrainBoard Member

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    I Agree. Basic soldering skills, time and patience along with a roll of Kapton 1/2" wide insulating tape and the TCS CN decoder is all that is required. Note the TCS CN and TCS CN-GP decoders are designed to work in the Atlas / Kato split light board locomotives like my WM GP35.

    DSCN0733.JPG

    I've also found the TCS CN line of decoders can be installed in the older Walthers / Life-Like GP38-2's. To do so, you will need a Dremel tool to cut two notches in the front of the frame halves to allow them to accept the front light / DCC board.

    DSCN0455.JPG

    The most difficult locomotives to convert to DCC are the early Kato GP38-2 and GP50 as these two locomotives require a wired decoder, plus either cutting traces on the installed light board to allow the decoder to control the lights or adding new LED lights for the front and rear head lights. They are not impossible to convert, but there is a lot more work in involved in converting them to DCC than the above mentioned locomotives that accept the TCS CN or CN-GP split decoder boards.
     
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  10. Atlas 080

    Atlas 080 TrainBoard Member

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    This is what I was looking at for decoder selection. Did you need to do any frame modification?

    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk
     
  11. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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    Minor cuts
     
  12. Atlas 080

    Atlas 080 TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you for all the input!
     
  13. jtomstarr

    jtomstarr TrainBoard Member

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    I seem to Remember that N of N - N-SCALE of Nevada having some frames.

    Tom
     
  14. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

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    NSN frames were generally designed to go with his cast urethane shells. They were good and bad. They were made out of what seemed like pure lead, so they were really heavy but also quite pliable. Also, there were a lot of flash on his castings, so they needed more than just a touch of the file and subsequent straightening to be used.

    His shells looked a little rough out of the package, but with a bit of prep turned out quite nice. As far as I remember, the oly frames he made for production locomotives were the ones that corrected the truck spacing on the GP that Atlas made that was so so wrong.

    But the kits he made with frame and shell were surprisingly good.
     
  15. jtomstarr

    jtomstarr TrainBoard Member

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    Bill ,
    Yes, they were I had a few NSN Locomotive frames and a few of his Loco Shells. However I unwillingly let them go wish I had them now.

    Tom
     
  16. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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    He also made replacement frames for Bachmann diesel locos and Rivarossi steam...
     
  17. jtomstarr

    jtomstarr TrainBoard Member

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    When did he leave the business?

    Tom
     
  18. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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  19. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

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    He was an interesting man, and very creative. Fortunately for those who needed his products, and I'm only speculating here, that he never had money problems. When he died that was some talk that one of his sons would continue the line, but that never came true.

    There have been several people that were the same.There's Loren Perry, Dick Billings, Craig Martyn, Matthew sombody that owns Wheels of Time, and some others whose names escape me. And right up there is the guy that made all the cast metal details that are sadly out of production now.
     
  20. jtomstarr

    jtomstarr TrainBoard Member

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    All,
    Being that I work for walmart and hearing about the tragedy around walmart... I am marking myself safe and sound!

    Tom
     
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