Thursday, June 06, 2013

DJ Jazzy Jeff gets another spin - now with DCC - Pt 1

DB burbles: Hey Jeff: the early 90s called and they want all their Direct Current locos back. ...And weren't you famous for 5 mins back then?

DJ 3067 was the second real NZ120 loco I ever built and it's held up well given that it's more than 20 years old now. That's about the time Will Smith became a megastar, leaving DJ JJ at the figurative alter. 3021 is not a lot newer, but it is considerably straighter and squarer.

It's been more than 15 years since this pair turned a wheel in anger because they're built on straight DC chassis (although I've used them once as analog locos running on DCC). Not only would the Kato EF6x Japanese Electric chassis be called "non-DCC friendly" in todays terminology, but with my DJ loco sides and ends glued directly to the thinned metal frames, "unfriendly" is too kind an adjective for my DJs. The would be like saying Hitler was "unfriendly" toward a certain religion whose name begins with a J.

Its a Catch 22.  DCC was the wave of the future 15 years ago, so if these babies are ever going to be useful again, they are going to need to be decoderized somehow - even if that requires blowing them up and starting again.
So that's what they look like inside.

I started with 3067 because it was in the worst cosmetic shape - on account of having been previously opened up way back in the dark ages to fix something or other. The construction methods seem a bit laughable compared to DX5293. Way back then, the frame halves were filed down as thin as possible and balsa was contact glued on top to extend the long hood "walls" up higher, provide a roof, and even for side sills.

Attached to this was paper (LOL) for the external hood sides with doors made of scribed plasticard. The cab is balsa with paper cab side cutouts added and the roof is plastic. It's hokey, but as I say, it worked.

To atttach a decoder we're obviously going to need somewhere to put it. Up in the top/rear seems like as good a place as any so we'll remove a little tab of metal to make some more room with Mr Dremel, who will also make a hole to run wires down to the motor which will have to be electrically isolated. This vaguely shown above.

So with that surgery complete the decoder was then wired to the motor (orange and grey wires) and to the frame (red/black - I drilled holes for some small screws to attach them to the frame - fancy schmancy), and while I was in there I soldered in a light up as well:

After testing it on a track, it seemed that the nice surface mount LED shown above (stolen from an Intermountain SD40-2W) was dead, so I replaced it with one a nice bright-white LED previously removed from a Digitrax decoder.

Note that I made extensive use of Kapton tape (that thin orange tape that comes in abundance when you buy most Digitrax decoders) to isolate the motor from the frame and also any exposed wires and solder.

On the programming track
Crikey. After screwing it all together, it seems to work! This loco was pretty popular in the Otaki to Cass era, so it must have quite a few miles on the odo - I was amazed at the amount of fluff in the bogies.

But after blowing the cobwebs out, it still runs well, and at a surprisingly 'scale' speed...and even the light works! And as you can see, the body is still pretty much intact. Yay. Victory for the common stupid man. In an upcoming edition we'll do some cosmetic tidying up.

1 comment:

beaka said...

The inside of your loco looks like one of my Jappa locos, so thats encouraging as I was hoping to use it one day.All The EF models i have are very good runners. Great work fitting the decoder.Was it a Z or N decoder?