The Best Yet?

As I mentioned in my previous post I’ve spent a little time over the last couple of weeks installing an ESU Loksound decoder into my Auscision NSWR 49 class locomotive. The sound file used was for an EMD 12-567 prime mover and very nice it sounds too. You’ll have to take my word for that as it is difficult to post what something sounds like unless it’s via a video. I might get around to doing something with a video at a later date, much later.

This shot is deliberately dark to show up the lighting on the loco. It has no less than eight LEDs each end and I've placed a short segment of ESU LED lighting strip in the cab to show off the interior.

This shot is deliberately dark to show up the lighting on the loco. It has no less than eight LEDs each end and I’ve placed a short segment of ESU LED lighting strip in the cab to show off the interior.

The job of installing DCC into this loco has not been a simple or straightforward job. I can’t really remember whether the loco was promoted as “DCC ready” but I really wonder why some manufacturers even bother with a DCC plug inside when what results it so woefully inadequate for the task. If you’re going to make a loco DCC compatible then do the job properly: if not then save the time and effort and don’t bother. I basically stripped the entire electrical internals from this loco and replaced the entire set up following the lead   provided by the dead decoder society. Of course I should properly acknowledge that the main brains behind this group of friends is none other than John Parker who designed the replacement components for installation into the locomotive. The man is a minor genius (I don’t want him getting a big head) and the design works flawlessly if you follow his instructions which will appear in an upcoming issue of 7th Heaven. You can follow the link which takes you to the groups website where there are details on how to join and get yourself copies of 7th Heaven.

In spite of the complications of constructing and installing the DCC system designed by John  around the ESU decoder the result is well worth the effort and not beyond the average modeller. I know I teased John in my last post about him burning out some LEDs well I managed to fry all eight LEDs in the front end of my 49 thus creating a good week’s worth of work as I gradually worked on replacing them. As I had to replace the dead LEDs anyway I set about  removing all 16 of them from the loco and hooked them up in a lighting harness externally that I eventually inserted back into the loco.

This photo shows the vero circuit board, replacement LEDs I used after I burnt out all 8 at one end of the loco and the ESU LED cab light on the far left.

This photo shows the vero circuit board with 2k resistors in place, replacement LEDs I used after I burnt out all 8 at one end of the loco and the ESU LED cab light on the far left.

As I was pulling them out anyway I took the opportunity to replace the blue/white LEDs supplied with the loco for my preferred golden white variety and I used 2k resistors throughout. The two light boards connect to the decoder and two distribution boards (also designed by John) via multi-strand computer cable and mini plug strips. It probably looks very complicated but it’s not really if you take things one step at a time. If an electronic illiterate like me can do it then believe me, anyone can. I decided to enclose my two speakers in a small black styrene box and, wired in sync, these put out a very pleasing level and quality of sound. They are Jaycar part #3030.

This photo shows the two speakers in their little black styrene box. The recess in the top is to ensure clearance above the rear bogie mounted gears.

This photo shows the two speakers in their little black styrene box. The recess in the top is to ensure clearance above the rear bogie mounted gears.

The DCC decoder installation is now complete and I’ve test run the locomotive on QW. I had to program the decoder and to do so with a minimum of fuss I finally bit the bullet, followed John’s advice and purchased a Lokprogrammer from ESU. This is quite an expensive bit of kit for a small plastic box but it streamlines the decoder programming process immeasurably and John actually tells me that many of the programming steps can’t really take place without it. So it was well worth it.

As I worked at removing the LEDs from the loco it started to dawn on me just how good this locomotive is in terms of quality and value for money. All the LEDs came out relatively easily and it certainly wasn’t Auscisions (or John’s) fault that I needed to do this removal job. After I’d installed the decoder and gave it a test run it became apparent just how beautifully the loco runs. It has a large Buehler motor and twin flywheels, a standard that should be included on any modern locomotive offering in any scale from HO up as far as I’m concerned. There really is no excuse for anything else in this day and age. The finish of the loco is superb and I’d have been extremely disappointed if this were otherwise, especially as Aucision does such a sterling job on its HO offerings. The detail is of a more than acceptable standard and the loco does seem to sit down properly on its bogies, unlike a couple of other locos I’ve looked at closely in the last couple of years. There were quite a few comments on the chat group I’m a member of complaining about some damge to the loco caused by poor packaging but in the broader scheme of things this does not take away from the generally positive impression this loco makes on the viewer. I just wish they’d bring out a prototype more to my taste! Auscision have announed that their next O-scale offering will be a 45 so that’s something to look forward to.

I’m prepared to pronounce the Auscision 49 class class is, IMHO, the best ready to run 1:43.5 locomotive offered to the NSW outline market thus far on the balance of price, quaity and time frame for delivery. Installing a DCC decoder with sound just makes a good loco even better.

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