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Thread: Newbie renumbering query and DCC decoder question

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    Default Newbie renumbering query and DCC decoder question

    Hi guys,
    I am a Brit (don't hold it against me!) living in the UK and relatively new to the model US railroad scene, having not done anything with model trains since I was a kid! I have been slowly acquiring Kato N gauge locos which are superb and run lovely. But I have a query, that you more experience modellers might be able to help me with:

    I have been trying to go for different numbered models (mainly UP and BNSF examples), but I am reaching the limit. In the old days, I would use cotton buds gently soaked in thinners to remove number transfers - is this still the best method? Which transfers would people suggest are the best for applying the new numbers? Also, where the number is contained the glass/plastic backlit panels (either on the nose or above the cab) how is the best way to change these - I would assume it is feasible to make or buy new ones, but I haven't come up with anything yet.

    Richie
    Last edited by GEfan; 2nd Dec 2019 at 10:22 AM. Reason: Moved DCC query to the DCC section
    British fan of American Railroading - with an interest in California activity

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    Hi Richie,

    We won’t hold anything against you for being a Brit. As a matter of fact, Moose will love you as he’s a frequent purveyor of British steam and he loves ordering from your country.

    I’m going to roll up my sleeves and try to answer your three queries and I’m sure others will chime in as the collective “us” will hopefully be your expert.

    (A)
    Renumbering is a toughie especially if you are just getting back into trains. Depending on manufacturer, it may be difficult to remove the old numbers without damaging the underlying paint. From what I’ve read on the various forums, Kato is the toughest unfortunately. Kato uses some of the toughest paint out there so you would think the underlying paint would be left untouched in the renumbering process. But unfortunately they use the same paint for the numbers! A few have done it with an abrasive airbrush, a q-tip soaked in solvent (which seems to escape me at the moment) or an abrasive eraser. Try Googling “Kato renumbering”.
    As for the number boards, they are even more challenging due to their size. Many have printed small font numbers (I’ve read 4 point) on a piece of paper and cut them out. Black numbers on white are easiest as bright LED light shining through white is still white. But if your number board is white letters on black, it may be tougher as the black may not be opaque enough to block the LED bright light. You may end up with a gray looking board.

    (B)
    ESU Loksound is the way to go but Zimo has better motor control. But what’s killing Zimo is their sound library is nowhere as extensive as ESU’s. The majority of folks here in the US use ESU Loksound. As for the lighting, you will have to run wires from the LED or whatever light source to the pads on the decoder, not terrifically difficult to do.

    (C)
    Sounds like you need to reset the decoder. First find out who makes it. Read CV8 and then look up the number in the bottom section of the attached PDF. Then reset the decoder depending on manufacturer by writing the correct number into the correct CV as highlighted in the green section of the chart on top of the PDF; CV8=8 or CV8=33 or CV30=2. One note of caution. Once you find out who makes the decoder, go to their website and see what CV is decoder lock. Some decoders have a CV that “locks” the decoder which prevents changes to any CV (for accident prevention). You need to write the correct number into this CV to unlock the decoder that allows you to change things. It *may* even prevent a decoder reset but I’m not sure. If a reset doesn’t work, I would next check this CV.

    Addendum
    UGH! Seems the PDF I want to attach exceeds the 1MB limit. You can download it here:
    http://mrhpub.com/2018-02-feb/downlo...-Card-v1.2.pdf

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    Here are a couple of methods that seem to work pretty good for removing factory printing.

    https://youtu.be/6Gf7xqIHGMQ

    https://youtu.be/YjXzspgRkz0


    For applying new numbers, personally I would use Micro Scale, although there are some other brands out there that may work just as well.
    These are Waterslide decals and not rub on transfers.

    As for the number boards, I've used Shell Scale number board decals, these work very well.
    Personally myself, I do not like lit number boards, so I paint mine black, install them and usually fill them in with a putty or Crystal clear so they are flush
    and then use the Shell Scale decals over them.
    The Little Rock Line blog


    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience." George Carlin

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    Many have printed small font numbers (I’ve read 4 point) on a piece of paper and cut them out. Black numbers on white are easiest as bright LED light shining through white is still white.
    That’s the way I do it for number boards.
    I use a 4 point in Microsoft Excel and print on self-adhesive mailing labels.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingmeow View Post
    Hi Richie,
    We won’t hold anything against you for being a Brit. As a matter of fact, Moose will love you as he’s a frequent purveyor of British steam and he loves ordering from your country.
    Thanks for that! Can't beat a bit of steam I do keep toying with the idea of pre-ordering a Big Boy model. Definitely have to be a Rule #1 operation, but im not sure I can resist much longer!

    Quote Originally Posted by kingmeow View Post
    (A)
    Renumbering is a toughie especially if you are just getting back into trains. Depending on manufacturer, it may be difficult to remove the old numbers without damaging the underlying paint. From what I’ve read on the various forums, Kato is the toughest unfortunately. Kato uses some of the toughest paint out there so you would think the underlying paint would be left untouched in the renumbering process. But unfortunately they use the same paint for the numbers! A few have done it with an abrasive airbrush, a q-tip soaked in solvent (which seems to escape me at the moment) or an abrasive eraser. Try Googling “Kato renumbering”.
    As for the number boards, they are even more challenging due to their size. Many have printed small font numbers (I’ve read 4 point) on a piece of paper and cut them out. Black numbers on white are easiest as bright LED light shining through white is still white. But if your number board is white letters on black, it may be tougher as the black may not be opaque enough to block the LED bright light. You may end up with a gray looking board.
    I had a feeling you might say something like that! I suppose the way to approach it is to view is as a repainting exercise, but one that is not needed if the numbers come off! I'll try an a secondhand Kato that I acquired first. Thanks for the tips. The British manufactures all use paint and then 'tampo print' the numbers, branding, graphics etc, onto the body which means they come off very easily. I'll have a search around for how to remove the Kato numbers, as it sounds like they likely do come out, and I'll report back on how I get on.

    @AllenH Thanks for your response and for the youtube links, thats helpful, I'll take a look at them, as well as searching out MicroScale and Shellscale. Half of the battle when your in another country is getting to know who the manufacturers or various things like this are!


    Quote Originally Posted by kingmeow View Post
    (B)
    ESU Loksound is the way to go but Zimo has better motor control. But what’s killing Zimo is their sound library is nowhere as extensive as ESU’s. The majority of folks here in the US use ESU Loksound. As for the lighting, you will have to run wires from the LED or whatever light source to the pads on the decoder, not terrifically difficult to do.
    This is one of the key differences between the US and UK. Over here, its a case of buying the decoder, then we have several individuals who produce and retain the various UK sound projects. ESU seem to be favoured by the manufacturer, while its a 50/50 choice between ESU and Zimo for the modellers, perhaps a little more in Zimo's favour. One chap, Paul Chetter, is one of the experts and has worked with Zimo to design new features in the chips - as you say the motor control is superb. In one respect im a little loathe to move because of that, but in another I suspect if I am going down the sound route, it will make consisting and smooth running easier if they are all the same decoder.

    With the LEDs, if the original circuit board comes out and the new decoder is just the decoder, or a circuit board decoder without LEDs, do you guys just wire in a new small LED to replace it? I was giving some thought to trying to redo the lights using fibre optic, but I think I might be being too optimistic given the space available. At least from my limited knowledge, UP and BNSF out in California where im modelling, dont seem to use flashing ditch lights, so that's one complication less.


    Quote Originally Posted by kingmeow View Post
    (C)
    Sounds like you need to reset the decoder. First find out who makes it. Read CV8 and then look up the number in the bottom section of the attached PDF. Then reset the decoder depending on manufacturer by writing the correct number into the correct CV as highlighted in the green section of the chart on top of the PDF; CV8=8 or CV8=33 or CV30=2. One note of caution. Once you find out who makes the decoder, go to their website and see what CV is decoder lock. Some decoders have a CV that “locks” the decoder which prevents changes to any CV (for accident prevention). You need to write the correct number into this CV to unlock the decoder that allows you to change things. It *may* even prevent a decoder reset but I’m not sure. If a reset doesn’t work, I would next check this CV.

    Addendum
    UGH! Seems the PDF I want to attach exceeds the 1MB limit. You can download it here:
    http://mrhpub.com/2018-02-feb/downlo...-Card-v1.2.pdf
    Thanks for that. I did find a list of DCC decoders for the CV8 on the web somewhere, but the number it gives me wasn't on the list! Didn't know about the decoder lock option, I wonder if thats why its not responding to any commands. It may well be the weekend or end of this week before I get chance to try, but I'll have a look.

    Richie
    British fan of American Railroading - with an interest in California activity

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    Quote Originally Posted by GEfan View Post

    @AllenH Thanks for your response and for the youtube links, thats helpful, I'll take a look at them, as well as searching out MicroScale and Shellscale. Half of the battle when your in another country is getting to know who the manufacturers or various things like this are!
    Sorry, I should have provided links.

    Shellscale Numboard decals
    As for Shell Scale, these are designed from and for N&W, Southern and NS railroads, so they have several options to choose from for something close to the road you model. Click on any of the offerings and it will open a new window that will give you a better larger image of what they look like so you can compare to what you're looking for. I've used them on my Rock Island and ICG models and they were very close.
    MicroScale Decals
    The Little Rock Line blog


    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience." George Carlin

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    Quote Originally Posted by GEfan View Post
    Thanks for that! Can't beat a bit of steam I do keep toying with the idea of pre-ordering a Big Boy model. Definitely have to be a Rule #1 operation, but im not sure I can resist much longer!
    A bit off topic, but Union Pacific is touring their newly restored Big Boy around the country, so it's actually plausible. The latest outing just wrapped up a week or so ago:

    https://www.up.com/heritage/steam/schedule/index.htm#

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    Hi GEFan,

    Replacing the number boards on a lighted diesel loco is a test of your patience. I've done it on a pair of Trainmasters.

    I used white decal paper and black numbers. The leds were bright enough to show thru the white decal and highlight the numbers.

    You should be able to print these on a laser printer...but getting the correct size will take a couple of tries.

    Use plain paper until you get the size correct, then do the final on decal film, it will save you a few pounds.

    Good luck with your renumbering.
    Happy Modeling

    Bruce

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    Quote Originally Posted by BruceNscale View Post
    Hi GEFan,
    Use plain paper until you get the size correct, then do the final on decal film, it will save you a few pounds.
    Cheers for the tips. Is there a special decal film or is it the equivalent of acetate?

    Richie
    British fan of American Railroading - with an interest in California activity

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    Hi GEFan,

    I used White waterslide Decal paper from the local hobby shop.

    Acetate should also work...but you'll have to use some type of clear adhesive(Canopy glue, CA, etc.) to fix them in place.
    Happy Modeling

    Bruce

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    Thanks Bruce.

    I think the UP ones are black with white letters, so a little more difficult. But I need to check what BNSF use.

    Richie
    British fan of American Railroading - with an interest in California activity

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