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Installing DCC in a Bachmann Spectrum 2-6-0

7359 Views 13 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Greg Elmassian
      1st I want to thank "Bobgrosh" for pushing me over the edge and going with DCC on our layout. We got an 8 amp "Super Chief" by Digitrax to go with our only dcc equipped locomotive and WOW what a difference from our old DC system. Now I want to convert the rest of our motive power to DCC.
      The 1st loco I want to tackle is a Bachmann Spectrum model#81494 which was billed as "DCC Ready". I have read Allan Gartner's dcc install instructions for other locos but can't find a link specifically for this one. It already has Sierra sound installed in the tender by St. Aubin. There is more room for a decoder in the tender than there appears to be in the boiler of this model. I have included some photos below of the loco, tender and wiring in the tender (have not opened the loco yet). I would like to keep the sync. chuff if possible. The wires for this come off of a cam on the rear set of drivers on the loco and come out the back to a 2 prong plug. They eventually end up in the tender as 2 purple wires attached to the chuff pins on the Sierra board. There is also a 4 prong plug with two wires supplying extra power to the loco from the wheel trucks on the tender and the other 2 dead end at the tender and I believe they are for rear tender lights that are not installed on this model.
       Southern digital supplied me with a Digitrax decoder #DG583R as show in the photo. I would like to be able to control as many functions as possible. I am not at all bashful about fishing some new wires to the loco and even replacing the existing plug system between the loco and the tender. I have already had a wire melting incident involving a dog and a turnout but that is another story.

      I have installed sound boards, rewired etc. but this will be my 1st dcc install. Has any one had any experience with this particular loco? Is there a page out there somewhere I can refer to for the connections? Is there a simple plug that makes this all go away?:cool:  Hope my pictures come through..if not will triy again!







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Tom T an MLS member located in Burmuda recently added DCC to his Mogul. He may be able help you. 

BTW  DG 583AR  decoder you have is designed for the Aristocraft SD45 & other 2-motor per truck Aristocraft Locos.  The DG 583S has screw terminals that is easier to work with (no soldering).
Yes, Tom T is the guy to ask.  He walked me through this exact install a few months ago.  Worked out great.  I wanted to write a HOWTO about it, but with a new baby, I just haven't had the time.

I used a 583S.  Essentially, the installation involved removing almost all the original circuit boards, and running the wires to the decoder instead.  The hardest part was getting the boiler off to access everything.  The decoder ended up in the boiler where the original Bachmann main circuit board is (which gets removed during the install.)

Now that I look, I still have his original instructions in my e-mail archives.  If he doesn't post here himself, I don't think he would mind me PM'ing them.  I followed Tom's instructions explicitly and all went great.

As far as integrating the sound, I'm sure it's quite simple, but I don't know the exact instructions and I would hate to guess.

I will send you a PM with the first set of instructions, and if you find it helpful, I'll send the rest.

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Hey Scott,

Glad you pitched in. Alan and I have been exchanging emails on this. The instructions I gave you were on an older hard disk, and have since been lost. Would you be so kind as to forward to Alan, and copy me too so I can save them (in more than one place!) for the next person? It would save me lots of writing (again), and enable someone else to be helped going forward. I'm glad your installation worked out well, and congratulations on the new addition to the family!

BTW, Alan is planning on beginning his installation this weekend.

Hi Guys,
I'll be installing DCC, a Sierra Sound System, and "Hybrid Drive" in a Spectrum 2-6-0 in a month or so. Any help/suggestions regarding disassembly/re-assembly and such will be greatly appreciated. I've done this "stuff" with a Spectrum 4-4-0, a Bachmann 4-6-0, a Bachmann "Industrial" 2-6-0 and a couple of others, but "the 2-6-0 . . . ?" Not sure - given Bachmann's always great "diagrams".
Oh, and are "Annie's" the same inside as their "regular" 4-6-0's?
Hello Guys,
Thanks to everyone for their help with my install....So far I have dissasembled the loco, and built the circuit as described in Tech. note #7 from soundtax regarding the sound
portion of the DCC controls. I am photographing and taking notes as I go and will eventually have it in a format that I can share with others.
Will keep you posted.
I'll be attempting the same install in the next couple of weeks using a LokSound XL sound decoder in the boiler. Have you figured out what F1 and F2 control in the example diagram showing a Lenz decoder install? In the 38T Shay, I was able to use F1 and F2 for the smoke and cabin light, but there's no explanation in the Bachmann manual.

I'll need to pull the chuff sensor wires back thru to the boiler and use the wire back to the tender just to hook up the speaker. I'm fine tuning the sound files on my PC to get the whistle and bell I want. They're not cheap, but I've used two XL's so far and if you have the programmer, they are amazingly fun to play with and provide enough volume for my needs.


The project went pretty smoothly thanks to some advice from TOC. I removed the supressor board from the end of the motor (has a habit of smoking with a bemf decoder) and reversed the journals on the third driver to fix the problem where the drivers drop off the rail. 

I was able to chase a two pairs of wires (one for the chuff sensor and one for the speaker in the tender) thru to the front of the bolier where the decoder was to go. The two pin cable to the tender then became the wire to the remote speaker.After enlarging the DC and DCC diagrams in the Bachmann manual, I was able to figure out all the wiring that needed to be moved. I have it written down somewhere if anyone plans on repeating the exact same install.

To get the Bachmann board and the decoder back into the bolier, I had to remove the feet/spacers that kept the Bachmann board off the plastic shelf that holds the smoke generator and the board. I used some electrical tape at each end of the board to hold it in position. then put a piece of think flexible plastic on top of to insulate it from the decoder. Then a couple more winds of tape around each end of the decoder and I was just able to slide it all back it and get the two screws that hold the shelf in place back in. The function keys are used to switch the smoke on and off. Supringly, it all still worked after gently pushing it in (rather like child brith but in reverse?)

Here's a picture of everything that had to be fitted back in:


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Hello Peter,
I´m posting in MSL for the first time. I hope it works.
Some questions concerning the installation of a Loksound XL from ESU in a Bachmann 2-6-0 Spectrum. I live in Germany and have to apologize for my poor English.
- How did you manage to get the wires through the boiler? Did you remove it? If yes, how. As I see it, there is a large weight  filling the entire back space of the boiler . Did you remove the ashpan and/or the motor housing?
- How does it work to reverse the journals of the third driver?
- What about the four pin cable to the tender? Did you leave it unchanged?

You offer some additional explanation concerning the wiring. Can you submit it to me?

Thanks in advance
Peter (also)
Peter, there were some challenges in getting this fitted, but it can be done. I had to pull two pairs of wires from the rear axle where the contacts for the chuff contacts are. One pair to connect the  chuff "switch" to the decoder and the other pair to connect the decoder to the speaker in the tender.The speaker pair I connected to the original two wire plug back to the tender. I soldered the end of the two pairs to a thin brass rod which I threaded from the underside of the engine over the weight and out through the front of the boiler.  I may have been lucky but it worked the first or second time.

I did consider putting the decoder in the tender, but that would have required a radical rewire of the locomotive and additional pairs of wires to the tender if I'd wanted to control the front light and the smoke unit; Bachmann designed these locomotives expecting a simple DCC decoder in the boiler and a sound only unit (Phoenix or Sierra) in the tender. By trimming the spacing tabs off the platform that supports the Bachmann circuit board and using electrical tape to attach it to the plastic shelf and then the Loksound decoder on the top of that, I was able to retain all the functionality (lighting effects etc.) provided by Bachmann.

Let me know if I can be of any more help.

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Peter, just reread your message. Dave Goodson solved the problem with the center drivers dropping off the track on sharpe curves.

"I've seen it, where the center driver drops off the rails on a curve, and read about it numerous times by others.
So, last night's operating sesion, I decided to drag mine out and run it.
Today, after all the other things I had to do, I decided to tear it down and fix it.
First, I grabbed my big framing square, popped the temp shims out, depressed the lead driver axle down, and checked down all three axles on one side.
Not pretty.
I checked the running board angle, still angled up, even without the shims in place (center of board to benchwork with loco on rails).
Then, I flipped the loco over, pulled the bottom cover on #2 and #3 axles, removed the crankpin bolts on #3 axle, and pulled #3 axle out of the chassis.
Then I inspected it.
First, I noticed the top (top being away from the part that contacts the rails) of the journal has a small pin that sits into a hole in the top of the frame.
Okay, now we're oriented.
Pulled the driver caps, screws, and pulled the wheels off (this is a good time to check your back-to-back for G1MRA 1.575" and install washers between driver stubs and contact drum) and looked at the journal boxes.
I pulled the boxes, held them together, with one pin up, one down, and there is about .040" offset in the bearings.
So, I re-assembled the journals and drivers (look at the boxes...there is a "flat" side and a "humped" side...."hump" to driver....keeps the drivers from rubbing on the frame) and dropped the assembly back into the frame with the pins facing out of the chassis.
Put it all back together and on the track, running board is dead level, and center driver......I can just see light between it and rail.

You can tell how yours is put together without taking anything apart.
Rotate the drivers so you can see through the spokes of #3 driver (either side) at the bottom of the journal box.
You will always see a round peg just forward of the centerline, about 1/8" o.d., and a similar square peg just aft of the centerline.
If yours is put together with the pin down (high cab) the pin will just be visible between the square and round pegs."

I was still confused and asked ave for clarification.

"I had to double-check.
Yes, if you have 3 pins in a row, NOT counting the narrow supports at the
very edge of the journal box, you're fine.

iII Ii correct looks like that, with the "i" being the narrow supports at
the edges.
iI Ii is incorrect.

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Any major problem I should be aware of installing in a Spectrum 4-6-0   fWill the DCC board fit in the boiler? Later RJD
Hello all,

I"m wondering if anyone would still have the Instructions noted above on the DDC 2-6-0 install. I realize this is an old thread but any help would be appreciated.

There is most likely a document on the Bachmann site that shows the connections.

My very important advice to you: Often the Bachmann instructions neglect to indicate a cross connection between one of the motor wires and the track pickups. I have encountered this in more Bachmann locos than I care to think about.

Be SURE to check that the motor leads and the track pickups are INDEED isolated from each other BEFORE you connect the decoder.

Regards, Greg

p.s. in the future, don't be bashful about starting a new thread, you will normally get MORE attention, because people won't have to read the entire thread over.
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