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Decoder Installation in
European Locomotives

The following has been contributed by Ulrich Albrecht,


General information for all decoder installations: Remember to always remove all capacitor and chokes connected to the motor brushes. They are not needed in DCC and may actually cause problems running back-emf and silent decoders.


I started to buy Fleischmann engines in the early eighties, and my experiences are limited to these engines and newer ones. The engines have a motor shield made from some type of plastic, covered by a thin layer of metal. If one has one of these, the conversion is possible
without new parts. Older engines with a solid metal motor shield need a replacement part, or some extensive surgery to the left motor brush with which I have no experience. Call Fleischmann, they are helpful although I do not know if they speak English. If you have friends in Germany, they may be able to help. The metal motor shield can be replaced by an insulated one. The part number is 50 4750. I have not used one of these, but assume that the tips for the newer shields apply after installation of this shield.

A general remark, Fleischmann locos are not very DCC friendly. Even those that have sufficient space for decoders, may not have space for the wiring, e.g. BR55 where the bar connecting the loco and tender has channels for the wires, but the standard decoder wires barely fit. It
took me an hour to pull the wires through mine. Often, it is difficult to connect the front lights because the body of the loco fits tightly on the frame, and there is no obvious way to pull the wire to the front, e.g. BR53, BR89. In this case follow the advise below. However, it can
be done. The newest engines use a can or open frame motor, and here no problems arise. The discussion below is concerned with the large round motor which can be found in the majority of locos. Also new locos have a 6 wire receptacle for a plug, but the connectors are not labelled, so they have to be identified before installation.

In all installation, the two motor brushes need to be isolated from the frame and the wheels. The motor shield is divided into three (for the older), respectively four (for newer engines) areas. In either case the two areas on the right hold the right brush and the wire connected to
the wipers picking up electricity from one side of the rails. This two areas are connected by a choke, which needs to be removed. Once you have done this, the right motor-brush is isolated. Connect the red wire of the decoder to the wire coming from the wipers (or the corresponding
part of the motor shield). The orange wire goes to the area where the right brush is.

The left brush is the tricky part: In the newer engines, the brush is sitting on a area of metal like on the right side. In addition, there is a fourth area of the motor-shield which is touching the left srew
holding the motor asssembly together. Since Fleischmann engines use the frame to carry electricity to the motor, these two areas of the motor shield are connected by a small metal bridge (1mm by 1mm) at the left lower part that needs to be cut. Sometimes it is covered by paint (e.g.
BR53).. Take a sharp hobby knife, cut the bridge, and the two areas are isolated. Solder the gray wire to the area connected to the brush, and black wire to the one connected to the screw. Before doing one soldering though, check with an OHM-meter that the brushes are really isolated. Better do this twice!

In older motors, the two areas on the left are one, and need to be separated. Take a sharp hobby knife, and cut a 1mm wide channel into the metal on the right and left side of the left brush from the top to the bottom of the shield. The cut on the right needs to pass between the
brush and the motor axle since the later has contact to the frame. Again, check with an OHM-meter to make sure that the brush is isolated! Basically, the cuts convert the motor shield into one of the newer ones. Do not use to much force, you do not want to break the shield. Finally,
Since things on the motor shield are very close together, there is always the chance of a problem if the wire insulation is removed too far from the decoder wires..

Here is a summary of the decoder connections based on DCC standard colors:

Black Wire: Part of the motor shield which connected to the frame (or Fleischmann black wire)

Red Wire: Fleischmann red wire

Orange Wire: Right Brush

Gray Wire: Left Brush

White Wire: Front Light

Yellow Wire: Back Light

Do not use the blue wire, since the lights are not isolated from the frame. Some locomotives have small selen discs stuck behind the lightbulbs to facilitate changing lights under DC. They need to be removed. Another possibility is to connect the lights directly to the wipers. They cannot be turned on/off but installation becomes more simple, especially in small engines without space for the wires going to the lights, e.g. BR53, BR89. Fleischmann offers 24V bulbs. I used them
to prevent overheating of the bulbs. Also, make sure that all the wheels are clean, and that the wipers are touching all the appropriate wheels.

As far as decoders are concerned, any 1Amp decoder should work. I successfully used the DZ123/DZ143 if space is tight, as well as TCS T1’s. The TCS M1 is another choice. The last two come with a one-year no questions asked warranty.

Here is a list of locos I have converted:

24, 38.10, 50, 53, 55, 65, 86, 89, 91, 94, 141


Motor isolation is much easier as in the Fleischmann case. However, engines may have a rather high stall current of around 1.6Amp. Always use a decoder that supports a 2.0 Amp peak current. Maerklin locos are easily to convert because there is ample space inside
the loco, and the same holds for older Trix models. A 1.3 Amp decoder like TCS T1 or Digitrax DH123/DH163 should work fine. Newer Trix models as well as Roco models: Space is at a premium so use a Z-scale decoder with a stall current of 2.0Amp like the DZ123, DZ143 of
TCS M1. One warning: Some old Roco locos (Vt11.5 old, V200) have a gigantic motor which uses about 1.3 Amp while running. I have not been able to determine its stall current because I have not been able to stall the wheels. Use a decoder like LENZ LE1835 in them.


Some older Rivarossi locos are also current hogs, use the LE1835 in them. However, you may need to adjust back-bemf. In my BR39, I needed to set CV53 to a value of “1” in order to get smooth performance.


Piko/Lima/Liliput: For these, the remarks about Roco locos apply. Space might be a problem, so use a Z-scale decoder with a peak current of 2.0 Amp.

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