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I dont know much about dcc but i was wondering if there is a way to convert dc locomotives to dcc?


Registered Member
Staff member
Well I'm not into DCC yet but the answer is yes. Some of the newer ones come as DCC ready sort of like install the proper decoder and that's it. The older loco's have to have the motor insulated from the chassis and the decoder wired in. Some of our DCC knowledgible members will be able to expand on thiswith better information.
Cheers Willis

Red Oak & Western

Active Member
WIllis covered the basic concept well. Beyond that, well it could take a book. As a matter of fact, there are 2 or 3 out there already. With DCC there are many choices that you can make. All DCC systems with inter-operate (THANKS NMRA!). They consist of the following components:

1) Control system
2) Cabs
3) Decoders
4) Accessories

Most layouts will use one control system. You then need one cab for each "engineer" or train you will be running. Finally, you need one decoder installed in each locomotive. This is the most confusing part, since there are so many variations among decoders. If you have current production locos, most are, as Willis said "DCC ready". This means that the manufacturer has taken the time to design the loco so that it is easy to install a DCC decoder. This may be by including a the DC control circuit that can be replaced by a "drop-in" decoder", or by installing an NMRA standard jack so you can just remove the factory jumper and insert the plug in the decoders connector. Where it gets confusing is in choosing "functions". Its fairly easy for steam and early diesels, they just have headlights to control. But modern diesels have all sorts of things like rotating beacons, ditch lights, strobes, etc.

In older model locos, you have to do some extra work. First you need to determine if the motor is insulated from the chassis, some are, some aren't. If it isn't, you have to modify the loco so that it is. From there, it’s a matter of choosing a decoder and following the installation directions: wiring the motor, power pickups, and lights.

Hope this helps. If you have questions about a specific loco, just ask. Either I or one of the other forum members will have the answer for you.



Coal Shoveler
Yes. Some locos are easier to convert than others. SOme have plugs that you can plug a decoder in. Others you have to 'hard wire'.

One thing about all these DC-only loco conversions, you most likely will have to change the lightbulbs from the 1.5v bulbs to a 12-14v bulb, or put a resistor in line with the stock bulbs. This is because the lights see full track voltage. A notable exception is the latest Athearn RTR offerings; there is circuitry built in which reduces the voltage to the lights down to 1.5v. You'll have to check the loco instructions to make sure which is the case.

However, some decoders have a 1.5v power output to the lights function. This allows you to use the stock bulbs.



Lake Shore Lines
"A notable exception is the latest Athearn RTR offerings; there is circuitry built in which reduces the voltage to the lights down to 1.5v."

That is with the exception of the Genesis line. you have to change the bulbs. you also have to pull the motor out and coat the frame as they have been known to short.


Coal Shoveler

Interesting, though, is the new TCS A6X decoder, which has a built-in 1.5v output to the functions. But, the motor issue still remains, I guess....


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