Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Power to the People

DB returns with a video confessional.

Although I've posted quite a few pictures of my locos here on Motorised Blogdruff over the years, I'm embarrassed to admit that most of them don't do anything other than collect dust and occasionally pose for pictures.

I was as surprised as you, dear reader, to learn today that my two Kiwirail phase 1 painted DXCs didn't even have decoders in them. I've had the decoders for absolutely ages, but never got around to installing them.

So, I did. And man, is that process a pain in the rectum.

The light board on Atlas locos is sandwiched between the frame halves - unlike the Kato ones which you can clip out and slip in the DCC board in seconds. Not so on Atlas models, where the frame halves need to be unscrewed quite a lot to release the old board. This makes the trucks/bogies fall onto the floor. Then you use your third hand to detach the motor from one or both frame halves to allow them to separate. Then the plastic hex nuts that match the loosened screws fall onto the floor also as you prise out the light board (like a contortionist entering a small car through a barely open window while carrying a large suitcase)  while carefully ensuring that the loco frame halves don't disembowel themselves and spill motors, gears and bearings onto your increasingly cluttered carpet.

But that's just the start of your trek, dear viewer, for these clever geniuses at Atlas are always thinking ahead and have now placed 4 microscopic copper detachable "frame clips" on the corners of their light board to ensure the highest levels of electrical conductivity. These are attached to the board itself and go on the inner corners of the board (while the clips are not shown in this stolen picture, you can see on the lower board the silvered contacts with the holes that the clips clip into)  :

Standard installation procedure is to prise the four tiny clips (which have a little indentation that fits that hole) off the old board with a knife blade, watch several of them ping off into space, scour the carpet. Find all but one. Install the three you have onto the corners of the new decoder board. Swear a little as another drops on the floor. Find both of them. Get all four installed on board. Try to lever new board back into carefully separated frame halves while somehow getting the two motor contacts to line up and slip through their contact holes. Knock two clips off board and onto table during this step. Watch helplessly as they bounce off table and out of view onto floor. Swear some more. Repeat about three times.

Nevertheless, within an hour later I had quietly exhausted my supply of curse words and shortly thereafter had two DXs with decoders installed. With frame clips. Aiyaaa...

So finally a review - the Atlas Dash-8 powered chassis runs extremely well.

The DXCs, the DFT  and the DI are my favourite locos at the mo. My DCs, DBR and DA all run horribly fast and with some erraticism (and no eroticism). I may need to get some slow speed Atlas motors. My DGs barely run at all (weird as they are new Kato PA1 chassis with new decoders), my old DFs run ok, but look tired, my DJs... have never had decoders. Until today, but that's another story.


beaka said...

very nice consists on the locos as well.I particularly like the RFL wagons. Do you get any comments from anyone when running NZR?

Kiwibonds said...

Thanks B. Yes quite a few. And all positive.

"Gee those are big containers" (explain 1:120 on N)
"hey, your freight cars are missing two axles"
"Wow I saw those 4 wheelers when I was stationed in Germany"

Back in the old days US modelers were pretty keen kitbashers and scratchbuilders, but these days you can buy almost anything RTR and those skills have become much of a lost art.

They tend to sit back in amazement when I take the tops off and explain that they're made by these incompetent fingers out of plastic and paper - and then the DFT in a day story comes out :)