The KHIAC NSWR 44 came as a bit of a surprise to many O-scalers I would imagine. It arrived on the market very suddenly and was priced keenly. It’s a Chinese brass r-t-r locomotive and happens to be one of my favourite prototypes, so it didn’t take too long for me to decide that I wanted one. It took four days to arrive in the mail and was in pieces on my workbench the night it arrived.
What I found upon examining the 44 didn’t really surprise me: the body was nicely painted and the detailing was ok: there are a few quibbles I have with the body details, but overall the loco looks right on the track and I couldn’t argue with the price. The only problem was that I wanted to see how it ran and I use DCC, so I started working on modifications to add a DCC decoder right away. I had already purchased a Loksound XL with the correct sound file from The Railroad Model Craftsman, so I had that base covered.
I removed the body from the chassis and found that the motor wasn’t really up to the standard I needed. It was some cheap, generic item and I wanted a high-efficiency Japanese can motor to replace it. I looked in my parts drawer and found I had a good quality Sagami on hand that had been purchased a few years ago that was supposed to be used in a project that I still hadn’t started. I also found some NWSL universals and 1/8″ shafting stock that looked like it was also going to come in handy as the motor I was replacing with the Sagami was considerably longer than the Japanese motor. I suspect that the motor supplied is an 18 volt motor, all the more reason to replace it.
I removed the old motor and found that the new motor was a drop in replacement, but it only needed one of the motor cradles to hold it in place. I used two of the screws from the the leftovers I had from converting my CPH (which comes from the same Chinese manufacturer as the 44 as far as I can tell) to fix the motor in position. I cut to size and fitted the new drive shaft, as the one supplied was now too short to reach the motor. After I got everything hooked up I temporarily wired this setup to the decoder and tested the motor and chassis for the first time. The running was very nice: it ran smooth and quiet through the points on QW. The sound files on the decoder were really different to the 48 class sounds I have on another decoder and the XL was doing a nice job of producing plenty of decibels.
Over the next couple of days I designed and assembled a small circuit board to allow operation of the lights installed in the body. I found that the marker lights, front and rear, are lengths of fibre optic but that these are not held in place with any glue, so the ends have a tendency to poke out or fall back inside the body. The headlights too are unsecured. I polished the ends of the fibre optic to ensure decent light emission and then glued them in place with some epoxy. I put a small drop on the inside so they were secured in postion. All the lights are LEDs and these will be operated in conjunction with the head lights: so when the front headlight is on the front white marker light and rear red marker light will also be on. I also took the opportunity to install a cab light and this will also be alight when the headlight is on, depending on direction. I felt I didn’t need to be able to switch these on and off separately but this can be altered later.
I installed the home brewed circuit board and started hooking up the wires. I got about half way through this job only to discover that my assumption that the wiring followed the standard DCC colour coding was incorrect, so I now have to got back and redo some of this work before I can get things working as intended. I’ll post a photo of the assembled loco when I finish but for now I’ll post some photos of the insides.
This upgrade was simple to carry out and will allow my new 44 to run with DCC sound.