Author Topic: Loksound 5 and TCS KA-1 in Life-Like N-scale Berkshire  (Read 462 times)

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jdcolombo

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Loksound 5 and TCS KA-1 in Life-Like N-scale Berkshire
« on: June 09, 2020, 02:15:07 PM »
+3
Hi everyone.

Many years ago (about 20?), I installed my first DCC decoder (motor only) in a LL Berkshire.  I found a way to do it that did not involve dropping the drivers to wire the motor, and routed the wires out the back of the shell to a Lenz decoder I stuffed in the cab.  I documented how I did it with photos and put it all in a PDF document that I still have.

In the past couple of months, I've had a few people ask if I had instructions on doing a sound installation in one of these engines.  Since I'm in the process of adding a half-dozen of these engines to my fleet, I thought I would document how I do it these days, using an ESU LokSound 5 DCC micro and a TCS KA-1 keep alive.  So here goes.  Given the number of photos I took, this will probably take several posts.  Eventually I'll put this all in a single PDF that I can e-mail to people.

I.  Wiring the engine.
The first step is wiring the engine.  To do that, you have to take off the shell, and this is not the easiest thing to do.  Here's how I do it.  First remove the cab (it just pulls off after spreading the sides a bit).  Then invert the engine and remove the two screws that hold on the plastic cover for the drivers.  Lift that cover off, and take out the lead and trailing trucks.  Then put the cover back on with the screws.  You will now see a screw holding the pilot assembly in place.  Take that screw out, lift off the driver assembly, and then put the screw back, but only tighten it a couple of turns - DO NOT tighten it all the way.  Now take off the smokebox cover (it just pulls off).  At this point, things should look something like this:

[ Guests cannot view attachments ]

Now grab the cylinders, and pull them down.  The screw holding the pilot that you put back in a couple of turns will keep the cylinder assemblies from coming completely off (and believe me, you DO NOT want to pull the cylinders completely off!).  But what this does is create space between the cylinder pipes and the shell).  OK.  On each side of the shell you will see some piping along the firebox.  Remove this (the piping has some pins that fit into holes in the firebox).  Finally, remove the large pipe on the left (fireman's) side of the engine at the front that connects between the cylinder assembly and the shell.  Again, this pipe has pins that hold it on.  Now lift the back of the shell up from the frame, and push it forward.  If it hangs up, check the clearance between the cylinder pipes and the shell - you might have tightened the pilot holding screw too much.  If the cylinder pipes are hanging up on the shell, loosen the pilot holding screw by a half turn, pull the cylinders down again as far as they will go, and shove the shell forward.  Eventually, it will clear the front of the frame and lift off.  Now TIGHTEN THE PILOT HOLDING SCREW so that you don't accidentally pull the cylinder assembly off.

Now remove the headlight.  On the first run of the Berks, this was a shell-melting bulb; just pull it free of the frame.  On the 2d and 3d runs, they switched to a horrid yellow-ish LED that was on a piece of PC board screwed to the front of the frame with two tiny screws.  Remove the screws, and take off the PC board.  We're going to replace this whole thing with a warm-white 603-size LED.

Next we need to cut a small channel for the engine wires on each side of the frame to route the motor and headlight wires down the side of the frame.  I use a 1/8" ball cutter in a Dremel to do this.  Here's what it should look like:

[ Guests cannot view attachments ]

Now comes the wiring of the engine.  First cut four pieces of flexible wire in black, gray, orange and red colors (I use ESU 36-gauge decoder wire) 6" long.  Strip about 1/16" from each wire and tin it.  Now we're going to isolate the motor from the frame.  To do this, First cut a small strip of paper that is about 3/16" wide by 1/2" long.  Now loosen the rear frame screw.  Now look at the motor on the frame.  One of the motor brushes is on the top, and it has a phosphor-bronze strip that runs down between the plastic motor front and the frame.  On the left side, you should see just the top edge of a similar strip that runs between the plastic motor front and the frame - this strip is connected to the bottom motor brush, and is what picks up electricity from the left side of the frame.  To isolate the motor, first loosen the rear frame screw.  Now take some tweezers or a small screwdriver and lift the top motor brush tab out from between the frame and motor.  Cut all but about 1/8" of this off - you want just enough of this tab left to solder a wire to.  Now take a small screwdriver or the end of a pair of tweezers and wedge it between the left side of the frame and the plastic motor front.  You want to create enough space so that you can slip your strip of paper between the frame and the lower motor brush pickup strip.  Do that, slipping the paper down as far as it will go.   Here's a photo of what I'm talking about:

[ Guests cannot view attachments ]

Now solder the orange wire to the bit of the top motor brush pickup strip, and solder the gray wire to the very tip of the left side motor brush pickup strip that you can still see just above the frame line.  When you are done with that, slip the tinned end of the black wire between the frame and the plastic front of the motor, and slip the red wire between the right side of the frame and plastic motor housing.  Tighten the rear frame screw so that the black and red wires are "pinned" between the frame and plastic motor housing.

Here's a photo that shows what this should look like when you are done:

[ Guests cannot view attachments ]

Now let's mount the new headlight.  To do this, I solder a warm-white 603-size LED to a piece of 1/32" single-sided PC board, and then use 38-gauge magnet wire for the leads.  Make sure the magnet wire leads are at least 8" long to run back to the tender.  I just glue this piece of PC board to the front of the frame approximately where the old bulb or LED was positioned, and route the magnet wire between the frame halves to the back of the engine.  Here's a photo of the replacement LED:

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Now tape down the wires in the channels you cut in the frame, so they exit out the back side of the frame:

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OK.  In the next post, we'll put the shell back on the engine, and then start on the sound installation in the tender.

John C.

jdcolombo

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Re: Loksound 5 and TCS KA-1 in Life-Like N-scale Berkshire
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2020, 02:25:35 PM »
+2
Now let's get the shell back on the engine. 

The first step in doing this is to drill a 1/16" or 3/32" hole in each side of the rear of the shell, as close to the bottom as you can:

[ Guests cannot view attachments ]

Now thread the wires on each side of the frame through these holes in the shell.  It's going to look something like this:

[ Guests cannot view attachments ]

  There should be plenty of wire length to do this with the shell sitting next to the engine frame.  Now push the shell back on the engine frame, and as you are seating the shell, pull any slack out of the wires.  When you are done, the wires should be exiting the holes at the bottom of the shell, like this:

[ Guests cannot view attachments ]

Now drill a 1/16 or 3/32 hole in each side of the "platform" that sticks out from the end of the shell, and route the wires through those holes so they exit under the platform.  Something like this:

[ Guests cannot view attachments ]

You're done with wiring the engine.  Now it's time to start on the tender.  See the next post.

« Last Edit: June 09, 2020, 02:27:12 PM by jdcolombo »

jdcolombo

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Re: Loksound 5 and TCS KA-1 in Life-Like N-scale Berkshire
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2020, 03:09:56 PM »
+2
OK.

Time for the sound install.  Remove the tender shell and you will see this:

[ Guests cannot view attachments ]

We're going to remove that center weight, and the rear LED board.  When you remove the board, you'll see that it was screwed to a plastic post.  Cut that off flush with the tender floor.  You'll also need to cut an opening for the wires from the engine in the bottom-front of the tender shell and tender floor.  When you're done, here is what you have:

[ Guests cannot view attachments ]

To add some weight back to the tender, I put in a piece of 2mm lead sheet (actually, two 1mm pieces glued together) at the rear of the tender.  Don't forget to insulate the lead sheet with kapton (or some other) tape so that it doesn't short out the truck wiper contacts.

[ Guests cannot view attachments ]

To make wiring easier, I use a small strip of 1/32" single-sided PC board that I cut gaps in to make five solder "pads".  These pads are going to be used to connect the track power wires (red and black), the motor wires (gray and orange), and the positive connections for the headlight and rear light LEDs (blue wire):

[ Guests cannot view attachments ]

Now it's time to attach the tender to the engine, and start wiring the engine to the tender.  The first step is to glue the KA-1 on its side on the lead sheet; get it as far to the right as you can.  Next, solder a short length of red wire from the right tender-truck pickup strips to the right-most PC board pad.  Then do the same for the left side and the far left pad.  Then solder the black wire from the engine to the far left pad, the gray wire to the next pad, the positive front headlight LED magnet wire to the center pad, the orange wire to the next pad, and the red wire to the far right pad.  When you're done, it should look something like this:

[ Guests cannot view attachments ]

Now we're going to wire up the LokSound 5 DCC, wired version.  The first thing I do with the decoder is cut away the plastic covering the Next connector wired adapter board, and I de-solder the green, purple and brown wires from the adapter board.  The green and purple wires are Auxiliary outputs, which you are not going to use.  The two brown wires are for the speaker, and we're going to solder the speaker wires directly to these pads at the end of all this, so these wires aren't needed.  You also want to cut away the plastic enough so that you can tin the pad needed to connect the negative wire from the TCS KA-1 (the black-stripe wire).  If you don't know what pad this is, look at the ESU 5DCC manual's wiring diagrams.  I also program my decoder BEFORE I install it on a LokProgrammer.   In this case, I used the Soo Line 2-8-2 sound file, but changed the whistle to the SP Daylight whistle, and changed the bell to the "03" pneumatic bell.  You can program the decoder after installation, but if you are using a LokProgrammer to program a sound file, do your programming BEFORE YOU CONNECT THE KEEP ALIVE.  Trying to program a LokSound 5DCC with a TCS keep alive attached via the LokProgrammer can destroy the decoder (really - I'm not making this up).  I program the sound file and basic function settings on the decoder before I install it, and then make any tweaks afterward on a programming track connected to my LokProgrammer.  When I have the engine running exactly as I want, I connect up the keep alive.

In any event, when you are ready to start wiring the decoder, first wire the black, gray, blue, orange and red wires to the PC board strip.  Also solder a 1.5" length of blue wire from the solder pad and leave it free for now (this is going to supply the positive side of the backup light LED later).  Also solder the negative wire from the TCS KA-1 to the appropriate pad on the LokSound at this point (don't yet connect the blue wire from the KA-1; we're going to do that dead last, AFTER we have programmed the LokSound exactly as we want).  Leave the white and yellow wires "free" for now.  When you are done, it's going to look something like this:

[ Guests cannot view attachments ]

Now fabricate your speaker/enclosure (if you haven't done so already).  I use a 13x18mm CUI "cell phone" type speaker in a custom enclosure made of .030 styrene.  The sides of the enclosure are 8mm high, and the speaker wires exit out the back of the enclosure.  If you haven't done this before, here's a link on how to build a basic sealed-box enclosure for your speaker:

https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=31311.0

I orient the speaker long-ways in the tender, sit it on top of the wires coming from the engine, and wedge it into place with some 1mm lead sheet between the speaker and the sides of the tender.  This makes everything removable in case you need to do repair/troubleshooting on the installation later.  Then I solder the speaker lead wires to the appropriate pads on the top of the decoder's Next adapter board.  When done, it looks like this:

[ Guests cannot view attachments ]

You're almost done.  The last part is installing the backup LED and wiring it along with the white wire to the headlight LED.  To do this, I use a 3mm warm white LED that I first "flatten" by sanding down the sides of the LED.  Then I cut the LED leads to about 1/8", and solder the blue wire (remember the blue wire I told you to solder to the blue wire PC board pad for future use for the backup LED?  That's the blue wire we're going to use) to the positive lead and a 1.5" length of yellow wire to the negative lead.  I insulate these connections with heat-shrink tubing.  When I'm done soldering, I use a drop of thick CA to glue the LED to the rear of the LokSound decoder.

To complete the headlight wiring I use two 1/8-watt 1K SMD resistors soldered to another tiny piece of 1/32" single-sided PC board.  Connect the negative LED wires from the headlight and rear light to one side of the resistors, and the white and yellow wires from the decoder to the other side.  At this point, I test the engine on the layout to make sure the headlight and rear lights work as I want, that the sound levels are correct, etc.  If I have to make programming corrections, I do so.  Then the VERY LAST step is to solder the blue wire from the TCS KA-1 to the blue wire pad on the LokSound Next adapter board.  I solder it here, rather than to the PC board pad we made the other blue wire connections to so that I can easily remove it if I need to reprogram the decoder via my LokProgrammer.  When you are completely done, things will look something like this:

[ Guests cannot view attachments ]

Put the tender shell and smokebox cover, reinstall the pilot and front and rear trailing trucks (if you haven't done so already) on the engine, and have a beer and listen to the superb sound coming from your Berk!

John C.



« Last Edit: June 09, 2020, 03:28:31 PM by jdcolombo »

jdcolombo

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Re: Loksound 5 and TCS KA-1 in Life-Like N-scale Berkshire
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2020, 03:38:31 PM »
0
A couple more observations.

I've never seen one of these engines that had the wheels in gauge.  On the first run, everything was too narrow.  On the 2d and 3d runs, the drivers were usually in gauge, but all the other wheels were a bit too narrow.  If you are using Atlas Code 55 switches, or hand-laid turnouts that you've done exactly to NMRA specs, you will probably need to re-gauge all the wheels.

If you are doing this installation for the first time, figure on it taking about 8 hours of work time.  Take it slow, and check everything as you go along.  One thing you want to do is use a continuity checker to make sure that there is NO CONTINUITY between the left side of the engine frame and the lower motor brush contact strip after you slide your piece of paper in-between the frame and strip.  I've never had that problem, and I've now done 14 Berks just like this, but always, always, always check.  It will save you much wailing and gnashing of teeth later on.

John C.

nickelplate759

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Re: Loksound 5 and TCS KA-1 in Life-Like N-scale Berkshire
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2020, 04:16:50 PM »
0
This is a great writeup, thank you!

Have you found a way to re-gauge the drivers without dropping them from the frame?
George
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I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

jdcolombo

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Re: Loksound 5 and TCS KA-1 in Life-Like N-scale Berkshire
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2020, 04:32:11 PM »
+1
This is a great writeup, thank you!

Have you found a way to re-gauge the drivers without dropping them from the frame?

Yes.  I stick a pair of open tweezers in between the driver and the frame.  The tweezers have a long taper to the points, so I push them down until the taper hits between the frame and driver, and then push a VERY tiny bit more, which in turn levers the driver out a tiny bit.  The key is patience and very tiny moves.

John C.

nickelplate759

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Re: Loksound 5 and TCS KA-1 in Life-Like N-scale Berkshire
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2020, 07:50:09 PM »
0
I want to add that just the disassembly instructions provided by @jdcolombo are terrific.  I have one of these engines (3rd run I think) that I bought used from eBay.  Wasn't exactly as advertised, but close.  Advertised as with DCC installed, but not working - that much was true, but there were some cosmetic issues that weren't disclosed.      Anyway, there were two wires from the engine to the tender, soldered to the left and right power pickup strips.  One had broken, so I resoldered it.  Then i coaxed the decoder back to life.   All good - but the wire was too tight and caused the occasional derailment.  So, I thought I'd see if I could replace it.

So... following John's instructions, I took the engine apart with only a little drama - someone had GLUED the rear of the shell to the frame under the rear cab wall.  Careful work with a #11 knife fixed that.   When I got it opened, I discovered the decoder was NOT wired to the tender at all - those two wires were connected to NOTHING, just pinched between the two haves of the frame without having their insulation stripped!

So - I removed the useless tender wires,  put it back together, adjusted the electrical contacts in the drawbar, and, apart from a missing engineers-side cab window, everything is good!   John's instructions made it pretty easy - thanks again!

Next step is to do my own installs in two more of these.
George
(that's my real name)

NKPH&TS #3628

I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

jdcolombo

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Re: Loksound 5 and TCS KA-1 in Life-Like N-scale Berkshire
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2020, 07:57:10 PM »
0
George, if you're not interested in adding sound, you can put a small decoder in the cab and avoid running wires to the tender if you want.  However, these days I'd recommend that even if you aren't doing sound, put your decoder in the tender and wire up a keep alive like the TCS KA-1 to the decoder.  Most really good motor-only decoders made today have connections for a keep alive.  The LL Berk runs superbly, light years better than the Bachmann one, but the electrical pickup on both the engine and tender is not great.  A keep alive solves that problem completely.  I've retro-fitted KA-1's to all my Berks, and have banished stalls from my layout forever.

John C.

nickelplate759

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Re: Loksound 5 and TCS KA-1 in Life-Like N-scale Berkshire
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2020, 08:06:25 PM »
0
Or - just thinking out loud - why not put the decoder in the engine and JUST the keep-alive in the tender?  That's only 2 wires (assuming I don't care about a backup light).

On the engine described above the decoder is in the boiler, above the worm.  Whoever installed it did a neat job (apart from those aforementioned mystery wires to the tender).
George
(that's my real name)

NKPH&TS #3628

I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

jdcolombo

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Re: Loksound 5 and TCS KA-1 in Life-Like N-scale Berkshire
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2020, 08:45:13 PM »
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Yes, that’s doable if you don’t want a backup light.  And even if you do want a backup light, you can run som 38 gauge magnet wire for that.  It’s so thin it’s like no wire at all.

John

nickelplate759

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Re: Loksound 5 and TCS KA-1 in Life-Like N-scale Berkshire
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2020, 08:48:50 PM »
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Ever tried adding weight to these?  They don't pull much out of the box.
George
(that's my real name)

NKPH&TS #3628

I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

jdcolombo

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Re: Loksound 5 and TCS KA-1 in Life-Like N-scale Berkshire
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2020, 09:26:51 PM »
+1
That's one of the reasons I don't put the decoder in the boiler.  I put some lead sheet above the worm gear.  Then I stuff the area where the sandbox is with tungsten putty.  Not a ton of extra weight, but every little bit helps.  I also put a small piece of 1mm lead sheet between the cylinders on the underside of the engine over the screw that holds the pilot; I use a tiny dab of thick CA to glue it in place.

But the real key to getting decent pulling power with the LL Berk is to use my "tape traction tire" technique.  Here's how this works.  You buy a roll of the thin double-sided Scotch tape in the yellow and black dispenser.  Not the foam tape; this is thin double-sided tape that they sometimes advertise as photo mounting tape for scrapbooking. You'll also need a straightedge (6" will do), a flat glassy surface at least as long as your straightedge (I use an 8x8" piece of thick glass, but any glass-smooth surface will do - a Corelle dinner plate, for example), a new #11 blade in a hobby knife and some tweezers. 

First, invert your engine and find a way to apply power to it inverted (I use some 6" wires with alligator clips at each end; one end of the wire gets clipped to a rail, the other end clips to one side of a tender truck - make sure to clip a wheel and the pickup finger rail in the truck together; then I do the same for the other side of the tender truck).  Cut off a 2" strip of your double-sided tape, and press it lightly onto your glassy surface.  Now take your straightedge and knife and slice off a 1mm-wide strip from the long side of the 2" strip.  Lift that 1mm-wide x 2" long strip, and carry it over to your engine.  With some tweezers, apply one end of your strip to one of the 4th drivers - enough so that it is sticking to the driver with the rest just trailing behind the driver.  Now apply power at the lowest possible speed - just enough to make the drivers barely move.  Feed the strip around the driver TWICE, and use the very tip of your #11 blade to cut off any excess of the strip just as it starts to make a 3d revolution around the driver (you want to cut the excess off just a hair BEFORE it reaches the point where you originally started so that there is no "hump" in the tape).  Now do the same thing for the 4th driver on the other side.

Put the engine on the track, and run it back and forth about 4'.  Then couple it to a heavy train.  Watch with amazement as the Berk now pulls 30 cars (mine max out at 35).

No, the double-sided tape won't make your rails sticky.  What happens is that it gets dirty, picking up all sorts of gook from the rails.  But this just helps give it additional friction.

Eventually the tape will wear out (after about 40 hours of running, in my experience).  No problem.  Just scrape off what's left with a hobby knife and repeat.

This sounds a lot more complicated than it is.  It takes me 10 minutes to do both sides of the #4 drivers.  The key is to make sure you cut the tape a hair under 1mm wide, so that it fits perfectly on the width of the driver, AND to make sure that you cut any excess just as it is about to roll over a third time.  You don't want a "hump" in the tape, because that will cause the engine to rock. 

The downside of this is that you lose electrical pickup for the #4 driver set with the tape on them.  That's another reason to use a keep alive - the engine will have even less reliable electrical pickup than it did before.  But a keep-alive will cure that, and the tape gives you an engine that can actually pull something akin to a prototype-length train!

John C.

PS - the other solution is to find someone with a lathe who can cut a groove in the 4th driver set to fit a traction tire.  Max Magliaro has done this.  My tape technique is a lot less hassle.