N Scale Atlas DCC Issue

Taylor D729 Nov 28, 2010

  1. Taylor D729

    Taylor D729 TrainBoard Member

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    Hey guys, i am running my Atlas N scale gp-38. i have installed a DCC board in it and it ran just fine no issues at all and then today i go to run and it and gets power, the directional lighting works but the engine doesnt seem to want to send power to the motor. i dont know what is going on, i feel as this could be a common issue, the track is clean and getting power just fine, i can run my other atlas engine with no DCC board. it is a U-23b not that the model would make a huge difference. any help would be appreciated.
     
  2. bnsf971

    bnsf971 TrainBoard Member

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    Sometimes the board will get jostled, and lose connection with the motor leads. Before panicking, I'd check that.
     
  3. maxairedale

    maxairedale TrainBoard Member

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    Hi,

    I believe that one of 2 things is wrong.

    1. The decoder is bad [​IMG]
    2. This is most likely - The motor leads have lost contact with the decoder board. [​IMG] The motor leads make contact with the decoder board only by spring type pressure. If for some reason the contact between the motor leads and the board becomes compromised, some oxidation, the motor may not run. You may have to take the locomotive apart and re-seat the motor leads to the board. Some people like to solder the leads to the board to make sure that there is good contact.
    Gary
     
  4. retsignalmtr

    retsignalmtr TrainBoard Member

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    I have installed many digitrax decoders in Atlas locos, Gp-38's, GP-38-2's, B-23-7's, U-23-b's and MP-15's among others. I have had many of them where I had to realign the motor tabs to contact the pads on the decoders, even after running awhile. I don't know if it is an issue with the decoder or the Atlas loco's. But once the motor contacts are readjusted they run fine with no more problems.
     
  5. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member

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    It is a problem with the Atlas locomotives. The floating spring contact is about the least reliable way to make an electrical connection. Most of the decoder manufacturers have changed thier boards to fix this issue because Atlas is not inclined to do anything about it. The TCS and Digitrax decoders have slots in the boards to pull the motor leads through and the solder. It is the only reliable way to do it.
     
  6. retsignalmtr

    retsignalmtr TrainBoard Member

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    I don't think it would be a good idea to solder those decoders in the loco's. If you want to solder in a decoder use a DZ-123 or 125. It's bad enough to have to add some solder to the mounting tabs to secure the decoder in the frame.
     
  7. jlbos83

    jlbos83 TrainBoard Member

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    Why not? It's not like you can't undo it if you need to remove the decoder.

    The DZ-123/5 won't come close to fitting without serious surgery, and leaves the problem of lights.
     
  8. sandro schaer

    sandro schaer TrainBoard Member

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    this is caused by the poor design of the atlas locos. some newer versions of the digitrax dn163a0 decoders have slots for the motor tabs. this increases reliability a bit.

    what i did : i used a piece of foam added underneath the motor contacts. the foam helps to push the tabs towards the decoder.
     
  9. woodone

    woodone TrainBoard Member

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    Soldering is the best way to go.
    You don't have to put on a big gob of solder just a small dab will do it.
     
  10. jlbos83

    jlbos83 TrainBoard Member

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    Not sure I would call it a poor design. It works fine with the board Atlas puts in. The problem is that there's really no way in keep a loco design and a decoder design in sync when they come from different places. And on top of that, the actual fab is being done in another different place. The good thing is that it's an easy fix.
     
  11. sandro schaer

    sandro schaer TrainBoard Member

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    i have to disagree. it IS a poor desing. having the customer disassemble the drive just to install a decoder is not state of the art !

    for some reasons digitrax decoders can be installed in kato engines within seconds. no disassembly, no soldering. just plug and play. i really wonder why atlas is unable to achieve the same results.
     
  12. mfm_37

    mfm_37 TrainBoard Member

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    Several years ago, A. J. Ireland told me he had pointed out the flaw in Atlas' motor contact design. He suggested a change that would have reoriented the contacts in a front to back arrangement intead of side to side. No changes were made to the design but Lenz became Atlas' new decoder supplier.

    Martin Myers
     
  13. retsignalmtr

    retsignalmtr TrainBoard Member

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    I still don't think that soldering the motor contacts is the way to go. Once I have adjusted the motor contacts the loco's work good. It is only a minor tweak and I haven't had to repeat it on the same loco twice.
     
  14. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member

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    You are very lucky then. I can't count the number of failures I have had with Atlas locomotives before I started soldering to the decoders. Since then, I have had zero failures.

    And this just happened, pulled out 2 new Atlas locomotives to install decoders. One worked on DC, the other would not budge. Took off the shell and reseated the DC board and now it does run. The point is that this is not a reliable electrical contact method. It is a shoddy design compared to all of the other manufacturers.
     
  15. sandro schaer

    sandro schaer TrainBoard Member

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    i somehow remember that paul graf told me that lenz no longer supplies decoders for atlas. instead nce now provides the decoders.
     
  16. bkloss

    bkloss TrainBoard Supporter

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    You are lucky if you only had to adjust the motor contacts a single time for each Atlas loco. Over the years, mine seem to randomly get "unadjusted" and then need the fix.

    The unfortunate problem I have: my digitrax decoders are older and didn't come with the slots to pull the motor contacts through. I would solder these in a heartbeat rather than have to resolve the issue by fiddling with the motor contacts when it is least convenient.

    FYI I solder the motor contacts to the digitrax decoders on my Kato F and E locos rather than rely upon that plastic center plug.

    Brian
     
  17. Railroad Bill

    Railroad Bill TrainBoard Member

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    Indeed, as do I for P42's... so much for mere seconds to do Digi-Kato's ... solder helps the whole program! ... even so, things go wrong.

    Why ever tolerate spotty performance over long term when there's a fix?

    :tb-biggrin:
     
  18. woodone

    woodone TrainBoard Member

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    Same here. After doing DCC installs for customers, testing them and then shipping back to the customer, he finds the loco will not run. I only had to do that once, so now I solder.
    ,
     
  19. mfm_37

    mfm_37 TrainBoard Member

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    Friend of mine found a simpler way to get good contact on those motor contacts for the P42's. Make a small dimple in each contact. He uses the holes in the gray plastic clip. Preses a sharp pin through the hole before removing the DC board. The dimple adds just enough extra contact when the decoder is installed. Unfortunately, he told me about it after soldering most of mine.
     
  20. woodone

    woodone TrainBoard Member

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    Well I would trust your soldering over the dimple any time.
    There should be very few times that you would need to remove a decoder from a loco in the first place.
     

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