Techniques for Installing a Model Train Decoder

Subscription Options

Model Railroad Academy Membership with automatic renewal

Please select from the available subscriptions above

  • Choose Your Membership Plan
  • All-Access Video Pass
  • New Videos Every Week
  • View on Computer or Mobile

Select your membership plan and get our best model railroad videos with 24/7 access to tips and ideas from our master modelers, automatic renewal and our ‘cancel anytime’ policy.

Clear

Learn More

For those modelers who are intimidated by the thought of installing a model train decoder, watch as Ray Grosser takes you step by step through the process with an HO steam locomotive.

He begins by separating the superstructure (boiler, etc.) from the frame, including the wires where they’re connected to the motor. He gently unsolders the connection points on the motor which leaves a nice, tinned surface for rewiring. With all wires detached, the motor is now completely isolated electrically from, the frame. Next, he selected a Digitrax DN140 decoder to install. It controls motion plus two lighting functions.

Watch as Ray installs the gray and orange lead wires to the motor first, each to its own polarity connector. His tips to proper installation of your model train decoder is to trim just a small amount of insulation from the decoder wires, then dips the the bare wires into solder paste or flux to tin the ends with the soldering iron to ensure no individual straggler wires are sticking out. Then after he gently touches the wire to the connector pad on the motor, applies the tip of the iron with a drop of solder on it and holds in place until the connection is solid. He repeats the process for the other motor wire, and the wires connecting the decoder with the drawbar and the drivers.

When attaching the wires to the headlight, he trims the decoder wire just long enough to allow the shell to be easily removed for later maintenance. He also highly recommends shrink tubing on either end of the dropping resistor and the lighting wires to prevent accidental shorting.

And that’s all there is to it- model train decoder installation made easy!

Tags: Allen Keller, Premium Videos, Wiring