Thursday, 26 February 2015

Jinxed - Bringing the 45 class into service

There are times in this hobby when things just don't go right and one feels that a jinx has been placed on a certain model or piece of equipment. I had this feeling as I was attempting to bring my Auscision 45 class into service.

As I mentioned in my previous post, both outstanding orders for Alco locomotives recently arrived in the space of three days. The two locomotives were given a bit of exercise on a test track using DC prior to the fitting of DCC decoders. I haven't yet made the jump to sound so I anticipated that both decoder fits would be fairly simple.

As events transpired, I was able to purchase a decoder for the 48 class first and so this determined the order of the work. Fitting the eight pin decoder to the locomotive was very simple and that locomotive was quickly on the painting table for its weathering before entering service.

The focus then turned to the 45 class. I purchased a TCS non sound decoder with the appropriate twenty one pin connection and settled down to install it. The body came off reasonably easily but the dummy plug as a little difficult to remove. It finally came off with a bit of wiggling. However, as this was happening, I bumped one of the air tanks on the side of the locomotive and it separated from the chassis. I wasn't too worried; I had read that they were very fragile and I knew that it could be repaired. I put the air tank aside the time being.

Now it was time to fit the decoder. Something didn't seem right and my first attempt to fit the decoder failed. I stuffed up! There is no other way to describe it. I had put the decoder upside down. When it didn't operate on the programming track, I removed it and attempted to restore the DC plug to check all was still ok. As I was doing this, I realised that I had bent one of the pins, the number one pin as it turns out. I attempted to straighten the pin when suddenly, the pin and surrounding plastic separated from the now 20 pin connector as shown in the adjoining photo.

At this point in time, a lot of things went through my mind, most of which are unprintable but a paraphrase of the slogan from George Orwell's 'Animal Farm' seems appropriate:

"Eight Pins Good, Twenty One Pins Bad!"

As I pondered how to fix this, I decided that the best solution was probably to 'hot wire' the connection for the missing pin directly onto the decoder. The trouble was that I couldn't determine which wire was connected to the missing pin. About 30 minutes fiddling with a multimeter seemed to confirm that the wires on the circuit board were connected to other pins.

I sought advice from Hobbyland at Hornsby and their guidance was that it was a spare. So with some trepidation I returned home, inserted the decoder into the now 20 pin connector worked!

Great, that was fixed and it was time to do a temporary refix of the body just to make sure nothing was fouling. Somehow, something snagged and there was an audible twang as one of the front handrails launched itself into space. It has yet to be recovered. More choice words!

A new handrail was fashioned from brass wire and fitted to the locomotive. Similarly, the dislodged air tank was also reaffixed to the chassis. The final photograph show 4512 now part way through the weathering process. The replaced front handrail is the closest to the camera, slightly misshapen and missing a brace.

So, all's well that ends well, but I can't escape the feeling that there was something more to it than just a simple unfortunate coincidence of random events. Only time will tell.


  1. G'day Phil.
    The main thing is with perseverance you got there in the end,I had a similar experience with the 2 horizontal handrails being too short on one of the 48 classes.Regards Peter

    1. Peter,

      Thanks, I have to confess that I also found one of the stanchions with the red disk on the front of the 48 class had gone missing just before it was placed on the tracks. Some styrene and touch up painting fixed that.

      cheers Phil

  2. Phil

    It appears that you got off lightly.

    A friend rang me the other night to say that he had just let the smoke out of the $195 DCCsound Loksound 4 decoder as he bent a pin when inserting the 21 pin decoder into the 21 pin socket. I believe that he is ripping out the light board and installing a Soundtraxx Tsunami AT1000 Alco 251 decoder (he had one on hand).

    Ray P

    1. Ray,

      You'll right, I did get off lightly. One of the options I contemplated was purchase of a second hand light board from someone who fitted a Tsunami decoder. As things transpired, it wasn't necessary, but there probably is a market out there for surplus light boards.

      cheers Phil

  3. Phil,

    I cringed while reading your post... I let the smoke out of a 422 DCC sound conversion, due to in part to in (my considered opinion) that the 21 pin connector was utilised in an inverted situation....That is to say that I, and many other non modelling electronics gurus that I know agree that the pins were inserted wrongly through the board. Irrespective of whether I was wrong on that point or not...the decoders had to be inserted and then taped into position to prevent it falling out and the bending of pins is almost a " right of passage " to DCC maturity. In saying all of that I have a sound decoder arriving for the 45 class, quite possibly tomorrow and I will he heeding your warnings regarding disassembly and reassembly of this loco...

    Thanks for sharing your experience and it is reassuring that others have those days where everything turns to poo...


  4. Rod,

    Thanks for the comment. I admit that my first thought was that the light board had been installed upside down but assumed it was a space issue. My second thought was that the thick side of the decoder pin plug should face light board and that's where my problems started (see second photo). I should stop thinking!

    Good luck with the decoder install.

    cheers Phil