A few weeks ago I installed a decoder into a non-DCC ready Atlas locomotive to allow it to run on our now DCC equipped layout. The task seemed daunting at first but turned out to be very simple. I will describe how I did this more in depth below but it can be summarized in four steps.
I used an Atlas item number 341 decoder for this installation which is recommended by Atlas. Determining what decoder is needed for a particular locomotive is very simple nowadays with the many online resources. I know that Digitrax has a Decoder Selector where you can find which of their decoders will work best for a locomotive.
The first step is to remove the coupler boxes so that the shell will come off. This is easily done by taking the screw out from underneath then pulling it out. Next the shell should be taken off. This is done by pushing in on the body in the rear and the cab in the front to release the tabs shown in the picture above. The shell then splits into two parts and slides up.
To remove the light board you must remove all of the wires attached to it. This is done by pulling the black covers off of each wire tab. The wire easily slides out of a hole to detach it from the lightboard. Be certain to document where each wire is as they must be put in the same place on the new decoder.
The locomotive can now be reassembled, starting with the wires. Before placing the shell back on, be sure to test the locomotive to make sure everything is connected properly. Then reassembly can resume and the locomotive can be programmed so that it is ready for service on the railroad. Please post any questions in the comments.
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