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Thread: Bachmann 0-6-0 Switcher DCC conversion. A complete how-too (pic heavy)

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    Lightbulb Bachmann 0-6-0 Switcher DCC conversion. A complete how-too (pic heavy)

    Hiya Folks,

    The purpose of this post is to provide a complete step-by-step guide to converting the Bachmann 0-6-0 Switcher to DCC. It is written with a complete newbie in mind so if it feels a little condescending, that’s not the intention! :-P

    So let’s look at what we get straight out of the box;

    The 0-6-0 Switcher is based on a USRA design during the 1st World War. Although adequate for the time, the 0-6-0 soon began to be replaced by the larger and more powerful 0-8-0 however they still saw service right up until the last days of steam, usually on small branch lines and in small yards. This is great for us modellers as it means that we can use them up until the late 40’ and early 50’s with ease.

    As far as the model goes it is fairly basic but certainly modern. It has a split frame chassis, 2 wheel pick up and tender pick-up on the front trucks, all pick-up is done via a split-axel system; Detail is ok but what did you expect for this price? The downside of being such a small and reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelly cheap model is that the motor sticks out the back of the cabin like it’s about to fall out. Certainly there are smaller motors out there but that would add to the price and as it is, you get a hell of a train for $35 because this thing runs well and can tug quite a bit for its size.

    “Enough blabber! On with the conversion!” I hear you say........fair enough, here we go! :-P

    Step 1)
    The first step is to remove the tender from the loco. This can be achieved flipping the train and turning the tender 90 degrees to the loco and lifting, it should just come right off. (Pics 1 & 2)

    Step 2)
    Next we start with disassembly. Start by removing the screw in the sand box on top of the loco. The shell is held by this screw only so now you can gently pry the shell off (pic 3). It goes without saying to store all the screws somewhere safe, right??

    Now we flip the loco and remove the screw holding the motor and then the 2 screws covering the gears. Finally, remove the screw at the front holding the running gear in place. (Pic 4)
    To remove the running gear you will need a tooth-pick or needle file or something. The running gear is held in place by the front pistons (which we just unscrewed) and by 4 long plastic tabs, 2 on each side. Slide your toothpick behind the running gear and gently pry it out, the tabs are about ¼”- ½” long so don’t be scared to bend it out, the end is in there, I promise! (Pic 5 &6)
    And finally we can split the train in 2. Take your screwdriver and undo the final 2 screws on the model, the chassis screws. Undoing these will make everything fall out so keep an eye out for the 2 gears which may go loose otherwise.

    Step 3)
    By now you should have a mass of screws, train parts and gears lying around. For the love of God, don’t lose any :-) Take a moment to get a cup of coffee, here’s where it gets interesting fun.
    We’ll start by isolating the motor. This is done by simply removing the 2 phosphor bronze pick-ups on the inside of the chassis halves. Throw them in your bits box along with the screws, you won’t need them anymore. (Pic 7)

    Take your drill and drill 2 holes. The first on the left half of the chassis, on the OUTSIDE of the wheel mount tab thing. The second one goes on the INSIDE of the tab on the right hand half. The 2 spots you want are pretty easy to find, just follow the lines of the metal until you find a corner, you shouldn’t need to drill through much. (Pic 9)

    These two holes are going to guide our decoder motor wires which is why they are not symmetrical, the right half doesn’t need to go far but the left wire has to be routed about the motor to avoid tangling. The other reason is that it will be a touch cluttered at the bottom and I couldn’t be bothered fighting space constrictions when I had so much to play with on the side of the motor.

    Take a 3” length of red/orange decoder wire and strip a quarter of an inch off the insulation, then tin the wire with your soldering iron. Now solder this to the bottom motor brush, the bottom of the motor is marked by the screw hole. (Pic 11) Thankfully Bachmann took the opportunity to make this easy as there is no plastic in the vicinity of the brushes. Even so, work quickly, if only not to do any damage to something I didn’t see. Once soldered, cover the exposed wire with a tiny bit of liquid electrical tape

    Repeat the process with the top of the motor but using black/grey wire. If you want to check your progress, now is a good time to attach a DC power pack to the leads to make sure your soldering connections are ok and that the motor still works.

    Again take a 3” length of red/black wire and solder it to the bronze pickup strip on the chassis halves. Remember, Red is Right (and black is left). I soldered it on the top but wherever suits you works best.
    Now thread the motor wires through their respective holes, re-seat the gears (if they fell out) and put the two chassis halves together, making sure nothing can tangle. Replace the 2 chassis screws and the clear plastic motor isolator (but not the motor screw) then pull the motor wires gently until they cannot move any further out. (Pic 10)

    Now Stop. Stopped? Good. It is absolutely imperative that you make sure the motor is isolated from the chassis at this point.

    Take your DC power pack and make 2 “Probes” using 14 gauge wire. Simply cut a length of about a foot or two and strip the last inch off either end. One end goes in the power-pack; the other is our “probe”. Apply the probes to either side of the chassis. If you see sparks appear then your motor is not isolated or your chassis screws are (way) too tight. It takes a little bit of jiggling but once you have it right I suggest you glue the motor in place with a half drop of PVA glue where the motor screw goes. I found the motor screw was causing a bridge between the 2 chassis halves so I got rid of it altogether but you can keep it if you like.

    Next we prepare our IC connectors by slicing 4 pairs of the socket pins off. On 2 of the pairs, use a razor saw to cut a single pin in half so that you have one and a half pins on 2 while the other 2 have 2 pins. Now position your 1+1/2 pairs so that the half pin is pointed to the chassis wheel support but absolutely not touching it (or you’ll short out the motor and burn your decoder). Once the sockets are positioned, superglue them in place. Remember that you’ll need a pull bar and a second set of connectors back there so you’ll want the loco connectors as far forward as you can. (Pic 8 &10)

    Very carefully solder the wires to the closest IC pin. I broke a cardinal rule of soldering here and used my iron to melt the insulation away because it was a tight fit, you may have to do the same. Either way, the length of wire needed is short. I used longer lengths earlier so that I could position the wire properly, melt the insulation and solder in place in one motion, I trimmed the excess wire with a scalpel. As the IC pins are close together it may be a good idea to slip a piece of paper between them to make sure no solder bridges the gap and creates a short. (Pic 12)

    Finally! Nearly done! Break out the DC power pack and again test that no shorts have been created between the chassis and the motor or anywhere else. Check the motor runs. Once finished, you can re-install the running gear and screw it all in place. Curl over the motor insulator and tape in place and finally, slip the shell back on and screw it in place. At this point you can use your probes to make the wheels run by poking the motor connections :-D

    Step 4)
    If you’re still with me, well done! My step 4 was a sleep but for the sake of this guide, step 4 is the tender installation. I would like to point out that I used the Bachmann Spectrum USRA short tender but the installation is EXACTLY the same for the slope back. I used the spectrum because I wanted the extra electrical pick-up and the freely turning wheels of the Bachmann.

    Flip your tender over and remove the 2 screws holding the trucks and then remove the top half of the tender, you should just have your base and weight. Drill 2 holes on the front end of the tender base, again for decoder wires. (Pic 13) Take your decoder and trim the black, red, grey and orange wires to about 2” in length. Thread the black and grey through the left hole and red and orange though the right. Tin the end of your wires and then solder into the female end of the IC sockets. (Pic 15 & 16) Re-assemble your tender, leaving your decoder free floating. (Pic 17) Depending on the size of your decoder you may have to remove the weight in the slope-back tender. I used a TCS M1 micro-decoder which should be small enough to fit without problems but I wouldn’t push it any bigger for simplicity sake. (Pic 14)

    Step 5)
    Re-attach the tender to the loco by connecting it at 90 degrees before twisting it straight. Flip your loco and connect the decoder wires to the loco, taking care to make sure pick-up and motor wires connect to each other (or your decoder will buuuuuuurn >:-( ) Adjust the amount of play until it “looks right” and then super-glue the tender wires in place with a small amount of superglue onto the tender

    Step 6)
    Bask in your glory (pic 18)! Oh, and program your newly converted Bachmann 0-6-0 Switcher :-D

    Well folks, I hope that helps a lot of people. As far as I know, this is the only guide on the internet for this exact conversion. My personal opinion is that this isn’t a particularly hard conversion. The chassis is split frame, the motor is easy to isolate and the tender provides enough space for a small decoder. You could skip the connectors and wire the decoder straight to the motor but I feel that would be dangerous if you ever wanted to work on your loco and in addition, I think that the connectors add a bit of “weight” to the back end, it doesn’t look half as bad as it did before :-)

    Happy trains everyone!

    Alex
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    Last edited by Chickenhawk; 18th Jan 2011 at 11:38 AM. Reason: formatting errors. Apparently the forums don't like MS Word.....


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    More photos
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    bring forth moar fotos!!!
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    <insert witty photo related comment here>
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    THANK YOU SO MUCH!! I just bought an 0-6-0 just because of your post. LOL. Cannot wait to try this.
    ~Sean


    I HEART KATO!
    Good look with your project and remember most here saying they'll buy are blogging from daddy's basement
    - Signed, an idiot

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    Wooo hooo!! Thanks for posting this Chickenhawk! My decoders arrived in the mail today but I'm pretty booked up until the end of next week so I probably won't be able to try it until then. I can't wait to give it a shot.

    --Sherman

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    This is excellent, however I would like to have had photos of the tender mods you made.

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    Thanks for this! I bought an 0-6-0 just to do this mod. I would love to have some more pictures to help this newb along though!

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    Quote Originally Posted by wookie View Post
    Thanks for this! I bought an 0-6-0 just to do this mod. I would love to have some more pictures to help this newb along though!
    This Newb just found the full thread and the rest of the photos. Thanks!

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    wookie,
    FYI; you can use the Thanks button in the footer of the appropriate post to show your appreciation to the poster.
    Bryan
    “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519)

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    Thank you so much for posting this. I am getting ready to send my 0-6-0 from the Yard Boss set I bought in the 80's for a new one. My current one was defective in the begining and just sat around for the past 20+ years.
    Yes.....I am a NEWB.

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    Hey, your thread here just led me to this forum yesterday. I was looking for some pictures and a step-by-step for this sort of installation and I found it here.

    Thank you!

    Adam

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    Has anyone tried to re-motor one of these? The motor in mine runs okay but sticking out of the cab like it does it just looks bad.

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    There is a remotor option but it doesn't cure the motor sticking out of the cab. A 5 pole motor from a Spectrum Consolidation will fit if you swap the worms and the bushing off of the stock motor.

    The best fix without a ton of work is to paint everything sticking out flat black, then shorten the drawbar to the tender so there is less gap and the motor is just plain harder to see.



    You can really only see the motor from a dead side on shot once you close up the gap.




    It's hard to find a motor short enough to not stick out of the cab. Maybe this will get a revamp in the future with the coreless motor from the 4-6-0.
    Tony Hines

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    That looks great, Tony!
    Going to have to get me one of those.
    What kind of tender is that? USRA medium? small?
    Dang! ANOTHER loco project to crowd the workbench....

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    The tender shell is a clear view from an old Atlas 0-8-0 switcher that the frame crumbled on. It's not perfect for B&O but it's close to what their clearview tenders looked like and I wanted something other than the USRA tenders.

    It makes a perfect B&O D-30 switcher.



    http://www.northeast.railfan.net/images/bo383s.jpg

    Even easier if you use a USRA short tender....

    http://www.northeast.railfan.net/images/bo365s.jpg
    Tony Hines

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    that looks nice

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    That looks really good. I was thinking of modifying the cab a bit to make the sides slightly longer, too, as long as it doesn't hit my Spectrum slope-back tender on turns.

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    One option you have if you are modeling a northern road in winter would be to make some cab curtains to hide the motor. Richie who posts over on the Atlas and Railwire forums did one up for his home road like that and it looked very good. He just used some painted notebook paper, folded loosely to resemble the canvas curtains.
    Tony Hines

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    I am likely going to do a lot of mods to this to get it to look like NP Class L-9/SP&S Class A-1. A little cab modification will probably be the least of it.

    I hope Bachmann goes back and does some of these again using better motors, etc.

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