Sunday, November 11, 2018

KATO 10-403 SL Banetsu Monogatari 場熱物語

Following my previous post, I want to install interior lighting to the Banetsu Monogatari cars that will run with the C57-180. The cab and end cars also have rear lights (only the red light), so I will install a decoder too.

I tried Kato interior lighting kits, but they do not fit in this car. I guess only old models can be used, therefore I'll use led strips of warm white color with a 2.2kOhm resistor added to simulate an old light:

The strip is soldered directly to the current plates of the car:

Then stick the strip under the roof in the right position to close it as a clamp, keeping the wires as short as possible. I used black wires because in this way is really difficult to see them through the windows:

You can use the same procedure for all cars, including cab and end cars:

In order to save decoders, I disconnected red light from the front car and I will install a decoder only in the final car. To open it, better lift the rear part of the shell and pull from it to the front:

From the same light board I take the current for the decoder. The only modification needed is to cut and remove the diode. In this way one of the leads will be automatically isolated from the rail current, and there is were I'll solder the function wire:

Here the board with decoder already in place:

And work finished! I like the ambient of the light of these led strips, and it's so cheap that you can illuminate dozens of them with a few euros of investment. After some years I decided to do not install decoders for interior lighting. I realized I never turn the lights off, and it's a lot of money that you can use for more profitable things.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

KATO 2013 C57-180

In this and the following post to come I will show you how to convert to DCC the complete SL Banetsu Monogatari train. It is composed by the steam locomotive C57-180 (KATO 2013) and the set of 6 cars KATO 10-403.

I think this is one of the easiest steam locomotives to convert as it has plenty of space in the tender, and everything seems designed to be able to install a decoder. There is even a hole to pass the wires from tender to the main body and space under the lead ballast. You can see here how to disassemble it:

The space in the ballast is perfect for a ZIMO MX616, but even bigger decoders fit in it:

Here you can see how to open the main body. Check carefully that you are unscrewing the right screws. They are in the extremes and between the frame and wheels. DO NOT unscrew the visible ones under the carriage because those screws are holding the gears part and you don't want to mount it again....

Starting to solder the decoder: you can clip off the cooper strips and solder current wires as in the image above:

There is a hole to pass the wires and rerouting them as in the photo you will be able to close it without problems. I left the white wire as I planned to pass it to the front of the locomotive to drive the light, but you will see later on I removed it. I tend to be too much enthusiastic....

To connect wires to the motor trim them to the right length. Cut the tabs of the motor and solder there the motor wires. And the most important and difficult part, isolate the motor COMPLETELY using KAPTON tape. I insist in this last sentence as I had many problems causing short circuits. But this has been a good demonstration that ZIMO decoders are more resistant than other brands. D&H or Digitrax had blown up for sure.

Check the following photo because until I isolated all metallic parts of the motor it didn't work. It's not only the motor wires and contacts:

Then install number plates, details, and SL Banetsu Monogatari sign in the front, and the job is finished. I'll try to make a video in the following post.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Tomix KIHA40-1700 `Nagamare`

Two years ago I was in Aomori (青森市), a city in the northern part of Tohoku region in the main island. I was walking to the Hakkodamaru Memorial Ship which is nowadays a museum, and inside the ship they have some of the trains that used the ferry to cross to Hokkaido. Passing by Aomori station I saw this KIHA40-1700 "Nagamare" and I loved the decoration. I added it to my collection as soon as Tomix announced the model:

It is the reference number 98022, a set of two cars. One car has the motor, while the other only lights. Each car has hidden switches to turn on or off the lights of each side:

Tomix models are perfectly built, but converting them to DCC is always tricky and everything must be disassembled. My strategy will be to solder single wires to each point (motor, lights, pickup current, ....) and after join this wires to the decoder:

Let's start with the motor, you have to remove the springs to isolate it and solder decoder wires to the tabs of the motor:

Once the motor is in place with wires soldered, the existing holes in the board must be enlarged to fit the wire:

And the same for the plastic piece with the seats to cross motor wires to the top:

Now the light board: I will have to turn one of the leds of each side to have the positive lead connected to the same side. Both positive leads of led must be soldered in the track having the resistor, and the negative leads isolated to connect the decoder wires (white and yellow).

You can see in the next photos how I cut the track to isolate leds, and the reversed led soldered again in place. You see I removed the micro-switches. Now I regret having done that because finally it was not needed and could be useful. So, DON'T REMOVE SWITCHES!!

I solder the wires to the led and also black and red wires to the points where to take the wheels current:

The board fits glued to the seats plastic part, so there is no room for any wire. All wires must cross this plastic piece and just a little bit of sanding was needed for a proper wire routing:

Test ALWAYS everything before soldering the decoder and putting it on tracks. With the tester in the diode position you can check that leds light on. Put the black end to the wire soldered to the led, and the red one to one of the black or red wires and check all lights. Check also there is no connectivity between red/black wires and motor wires (gray/orange):

So, time to solder the decoder and test it on tracks:

After checking it works, I tried to reroute wires as well as I could....

For the non motorized car I used a LaisDCC decoder. It costs less than 10€ and it is very convenient when used for lighting cab cars as it can invert the polarity so you won't need to reverse any led. On the other hand, I never use them to power motors as in my opinion LaisDCC decoders are the most horrible decoders to drive motors. Regulation is awful.

To use it for lights, use the grey and orange wires (not the function wires) and program it before soldering: set CV61=68 and write in CV133 the desired intensity (value from 0 to 255). Normally a value between 20 and 50 is enough.

Now is time to add all details, a watchmaker's job....

And model finished!!!!