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Thread: Swapping decoders in an Athearn Big Boy- is it hard to do?

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    Default Swapping decoders in an Athearn Big Boy- is it hard to do?

    How hard is it to take out the stock MRC decoder in my Big Boy and install a Tsunami? Do I have to do any wiring or is it mostly plug and play? I have not yet opened it up and to be honest I am kind of scared to until I get a little more info on the subject. Who else has made the conversion? Does anyone have pictures? Thanks in advance!
    Owner and Chief Engineer on the WyCo Western Railway

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    I did a Challenger several years ago. The hardest part was trying to figure out how to get the tender apart.
    I will bet the Big Boy is not much different. Hope you have your manual. It will tell you how to remove the tender shell. I did not have a manual for the Challenger so I had to research on how to get inside it.
    It will be a hard wire install as there is no plug on the inside as far as I know.

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    Oh nuts. Ok. I was hoping that the MRC decoder would have a plug I could just pop it off and put the Tsunami in, but it looks like that won't be the case. Is there a walkthrough online somewhere? I have been searching but I can't find one. Maybe you guys know something I don't?
    Owner and Chief Engineer on the WyCo Western Railway

    http://wycowesternrwy.blogspot.com/

    Please visit my shop as well! http://www.shapeways.com/shops/sierrastudios

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    Quote Originally Posted by woodone View Post
    I did a Challenger several years ago. The hardest part was trying to figure out how to get the tender apart.
    I will bet the Big Boy is not much different. Hope you have your manual. It will tell you how to remove the tender shell. I did not have a manual for the Challenger so I had to research on how to get inside it.
    It will be a hard wire install as there is no plug on the inside as far as I know.

    I have been wondering the same thing the MRC sound is like having a mouse out of breath running around my track. But I heard it would be a real chore and I don't want to mess with it unless I know how.

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    Sierra and Crossfire,
    I would suggest that you find a good DCC installer and have the work done buy a pro.
    You are looking at a high priced locomotive and then you are going to put in a Tsunami which is about $112.00 if you shop around to find a good price on the decoder.

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    I actually do have one hell of a good installer. I will probably just pay him to do it. He did the install for the Tsunami I have in my brass 844 and it runs quite nicely. I would recommend that you check him out too Crossfire. His name is John Thut and he owns and runs dcchobbysupply.com and his prices are pretty good. I was just hoping to learn a little on my own but I guess I will just go peek over his shoulder while he is installing mine.
    Owner and Chief Engineer on the WyCo Western Railway

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    Please visit my shop as well! http://www.shapeways.com/shops/sierrastudios

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    I suspect that the Big Boy is the same as the Challenger. If so, it is supposed to be a virtually plug and play install. Here is the description from the Soundtraxx web page for this decoder:
    This plug and play digital sound decoder is a snap to install in your Athearn N-Scale Challenger! Two sockets on the circuit board for both power and speaker connections eliminate all but soldering two wires to the speaker from the installation process. Simply plug the Athearn power harness into the 5-pin receptacle and connect the speaker wires from the already installed speaker to the supplied harness.

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    Thanks sierra I might just have to check this guy out. or maybe I'm brave enough to pop open tender and see what it looks like if it is a plug and play it would be easy. I might just have to be brave

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    After looking at that link, I might just take a crack at this myself as well. John has fixed some of my "boo-boos" before and as long as I keep all the parts and don't break anything he should be able to fix it if I mess up.
    Owner and Chief Engineer on the WyCo Western Railway

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    Please visit my shop as well! http://www.shapeways.com/shops/sierrastudios

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    You first in that case If you do post some pics and let us know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crossfire View Post
    You first in that case If you do post some pics and let us know.
    Sure thing! I will probably get the decoder in the next month or two and post a thread on it.
    Owner and Chief Engineer on the WyCo Western Railway

    http://wycowesternrwy.blogspot.com/

    Please visit my shop as well! http://www.shapeways.com/shops/sierrastudios

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