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Thread: DCC Locos with Sound - buy factory installed?

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    Default DCC Locos with Sound - buy factory installed?

    Hi, I'm new to the hobby and am jumping in with both feet. I am working on my first layout, and am researching my first set of locos. My son (8) is the one who is getting me into this, and I know we will want locos with sound. It seems to me that sound in N Scale is quite a bit of work if done aftermarket. As a general rule, for the beginner is it worth it to just buy a loco with sound preinstalled? For example, the Kato FEF-3 retails for around $190 (DCC ready), but you can get the version with ESU LOKSOUND for around $330.

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    If you have the discretionary cash and need the sound then go for it. Just starting out I would definitely at least go DCC. Pre-installed is always easier until you get into the hobby more then can install your own decoders. Be sure to research loco's before buying if you want to learn to install your own, it's an expensive thing if you make a mistake.

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    Buy research is code for looking @Spookshow's reviews
    http://www.spookshow.net/locos.html

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    @plkash

    Moose bid you hearty welcome to the greatest wee n scale forum on the interweb!

    The spookshow website is a must for researching locomotives.

    Please also ask the community here about best online shops for purchasing stuff, including locomotives.
    ~ Moose (Co-founder of the Mt. Tahoma & Pacific Railroad, located some where in the Pacific Northwest)

    "Beware the Train of Thought that Carries no Freight..."

    Click Here to See Moose's Layout Thread

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    Pre-installed sound is becoming more and more commonplace now. The ScaleTrains ET44 is the best value at a little over $200, which is less than most other locos with sound, and the body detail and paint/printing is worthy of a loco costing twice as much. Although, your son might be too young to handle the ScaleTrains loco with delicate details (Maybe wait until he's a teen). Kato has special editions of their locos (branded "Kobo") with pre-installed DCC & sound. They cost a little more than the ScaleTrains loco, but they are one of the best-running locos on the market, and the body has less detail to worry about breaking off, so I think an 8 year-old might be able to handle it fine.

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
    Under the streets of Los Angeles

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    Quote Originally Posted by plkash View Post
    For example, the Kato FEF-3 retails for around $190 (DCC ready), but you can get the version with ESU LOKSOUND for around $330.
    Some modelers enjoy the challenge of installing sound decoders in N scale locomotives that are just DCC ready (but not sound ready, i.e., no accommodation for a speaker). And kudos to them! I enjoy and take inspiration from their posts here. But the operative word is "challenge."

    For the extra $140, I'd opt for the sound version if you're just getting started in the hobby. And more and more new offerings in N scale are coming with pre-installed sound decoders.

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    Rather than chance screwing up a nice locomotive, I personally opt for factory installed sound.
    Cheers!
    Gordon
    Rheinland Bayern Bahn
    http://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...4-x-9-5-layout

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    Getting DCC-Friendly frames for those old non-DCC locos just got more difficult what with Aztec going out of business

    -Mark

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    For the "average modeler" I would strongly recommend buying factory sound if you want sound. Most of the current options sound really good, and there's no fiddling involved.

    For the "moderately advanced modeler" consider installing drop-in-decoder sound. These are obviously available only for a limited number of locomotives where there was already space for a speaker, and the speakers are generally smaller and/or lower quality than factory or self installed units, but still can be good options for some locomotives.

    Converting a non-DCC, non-sound locomotive to sound is a far more daunting task with most models. It generally involves cutting and shaping, delicate wire and component soldering, and should usually only be attempted by someone with reasonable skills and experience in those areas.
    --
    Leo Bicknell

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    Quote Originally Posted by plkash View Post
    Hi, I'm new to the hobby and am jumping in with both feet. I am working on my first layout, and am researching my first set of locos. My son (8) is the one who is getting me into this, and I know we will want locos with sound. It seems to me that sound in N Scale is quite a bit of work if done aftermarket. As a general rule, for the beginner is it worth it to just buy a loco with sound preinstalled? For example, the Kato FEF-3 retails for around $190 (DCC ready), but you can get the version with ESU LOKSOUND for around $330.
    Coming from someone who is going through a Sound Install at the moment ... spend the money and buy factory fitted!

    As has been stated, there is a LOT of work when it comes to converting a DCC Ready engine into a Sound Engine. In most cases, you have to modify the frame of the engine, mill it so the decoder will fit. You will have at least 4 wires to solder onto the decoder then to where they go - speaker and motor. You'll then need to install the front and rear lights by soldering them to the decoder.

    To do that, you'll need to strip the engine down meaning, remove the shell, fuel tank, trucks, split the frame and remove the motor and worm gears. That would be the minimum required to ensure nothing clogs the gears or motor when cutting/milling the frame for the decoder to fit.

    I can put TCS Drop in Decoders in Kato engines easily and quickly, BUT doing an ESU Sound Install into the same engine is completely different, very time consuming and fiddly. I am still trying to get everything seated properly and the engine to just run, forget about whether there is going to be Sound at the moment.

    Here is my Install thread if your interesting in seeing what is involved:

    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showth...010#post551010

    Trust me, paying the extra for factory fitted is well worth the money in all respects if you have no experience in this area or even if, like me, you have some experience at converting DCC Ready engine to DCC.

    Finally, by the time you buy the DCC Ready Engine, Decoder, Speaker, Chamber/Baffle, wire, solder, flux and a GOOD soldering iron/system ... then have to do all the work as mentioned above, $330 for factory installed ESU in a Kato Engine is more than well worth the money
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Thanks for your comments. My takeaway is that I should be buying with sound built-in. I'd rather be spending my fiddling time on the layout and track rather than potentially messing up a new engine. I have ordered the Kato FEF-3 with DCC/Loksound pre-installed.

    As I mentioned, my son is the one who spurred interest in the hobby. He won't be operating high-end trains like this without supervision. I got him a Bachmann HO starter set to mess around with at his discretion. The N scale layout will be our joint project.

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    I def agree Tony . But one exception to your list of things to buy would be the good soldering iron . A good soldering iron should be part of a model railroaders basic tool kit . Many uses like track soldering ect...

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by aflica View Post
    A good soldering iron should be part of a model railroaders basic tool kit . Many uses like track soldering ect...
    Totally agree Steve but was working on the premises that pllcash was new to the hobby and may not already have one.
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spookshow View Post
    Getting DCC-Friendly frames for those old non-DCC locos just got more difficult what with Aztec going out of business

    -Mark
    Whaaa?!

    Moose was going to send them at least 3 frames. Drats!

    Moose now gotta get off moose duff and learn to mill disease'el frames...
    ~ Moose (Co-founder of the Mt. Tahoma & Pacific Railroad, located some where in the Pacific Northwest)

    "Beware the Train of Thought that Carries no Freight..."

    Click Here to See Moose's Layout Thread

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose2013 View Post
    Moose now gotta get off moose duff and learn to mill disease'el frames...
    Easy ... 20 lb mash hammer and cold chisel ...
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Quote Originally Posted by wombat457 View Post
    Easy ... 20 lb mash hammer and cold chisel ...
    Chisel disease'el?

    Moose thought that was going to sound funny, buuut, not so much ... ... ... "cheese'el disease'el" "weasel disease'el" "disease'el measles"
    ~ Moose (Co-founder of the Mt. Tahoma & Pacific Railroad, located some where in the Pacific Northwest)

    "Beware the Train of Thought that Carries no Freight..."

    Click Here to See Moose's Layout Thread

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    Quote Originally Posted by el Gato Gordo View Post
    Rather than chance screwing up a nice locomotive, I personally opt for factory installed sound.
    I prefer that route, especially when frame milling is involved! I can handle the wiring and soldering, but I don't want to mess with the frame! I did take on one sound install, but it was a Digitrax sound decoder in a Kato P42, which has a full cowl-width body anyway and didn't require milling to fit a speaker and capacitor (I even installed flashing ditch lights later on).

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
    Under the streets of Los Angeles

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moose2013 View Post
    Chisel disease'el?

    Moose thought that was going to sound funny, buuut, not so much ... ... ... "cheese'el disease'el" "weasel disease'el" "disease'el measles"
    Was just a thought ...
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Before I purchase a locomotive, I always check Spookshow. He publishes enough photos so you can actually check which model is offered in an ebay auction (most of the time), or enough information about the product to make a wise decision. He is my N Scale GOD.

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