Install a decoder in a Spectrum K4

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#1
My son's mother took him to a train show where he convinced her to buy a used Spectrum PRR K4 (5404). From what I've found out online, this engine was released in 1994. I took the shell off the locomotive, and discovered that the rear pickup leads are not connected. The tender is hollow. Would it make sense to install a DCC socket on this loco, with the wire leading out to the tender where I can install the decoder? I've never done any of this without a quick plug, but I've soldered computers together. Any hints or tips?
 
#2
Sounds like you've tought your son well to me!! :D I don't know about those quick plugs (I model N scale, where they're rarely seen outside of Europe), but to convert it to DCC at the very worst you'd be running four wires between the tender and the engine- two for pickup back to the decoder, and then two from the decoder to the motor in the engine itself. You may also want to check the motor as some old ones don't like DCC, but I don't know too much more on that I'm afraid.
 
#3
Four wires, huh? This loco has pickups on the front and rear trucks, but doesn't appear to have them on the drivers. It needs repair anyway...
 
T

tmiller

Guest
#4
Hank,

I was in a similar situation last summer. I had purchased a Spectrum K4 Pacific Pennsy #1361, a DC version. I enlisted the help from my LHS to rewire the locomotive to make it DCC ready. I would install the decoder in the tender. So, he was to wire the locomotive and make the connection wiring between the loco and tender. Well, he had over 5 hours trying to make it work, with no success. Something about the wheels and the wiring. I ended up making it into a static display. Long story short, I ended up buying a DCC On Board unit for a little over $125, new. All the wiring has been done, all I had to do was install the sound decoder in the tender. Having all the wiring ready to go makes the installation of the sound decoder very easy. And with the DCC unit, the speaker area is ready to go in the tender. I installed a SoundTraxx TSU-100 decoder. Less than an hour and you have a terrific sounding engine. Love my K4!

My advice, save some time and frustration and try to find a DCC ready, which would be a newer version of the Spectrum K4 Pacific.

If I can help further, please let me know.

Ted
 
#5
I wound up sending the loco to Bachmann for service. The wheels wouldn't turn in the same direction. I asked if they could put a DCC harness in it, so we'll see when I get it back.
 

bnsf971

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#6
I wound up sending the loco to Bachmann for service. The wheels wouldn't turn in the same direction. I asked if they could put a DCC harness in it, so we'll see when I get it back.
That's one of the original K4 locomotives, built back before DCC was even a gleam in anyone's eyes. Don't expect to get the same engine back, you will probably be offered a modern replacement, that will be at least DCC ready.
 
T

tmiller

Guest
#7
From what I am told, the original Spectrum's like the Pacific K4 was built around 1990. And yes, long before DCC. If Bachmann swaps out the loco for a DCC model, then you are set to go. You can buy a Soundtraxx sound decoder for around $100. Installation is easy. Then you will have a great running locomotive.

Ted
 
#9
Just a follow up to this post. We sent the unit in to Bachmann with a $15 check, and a letter explaining the problem. Since the unit is no longer made, they offered us a 2-8-0 instead. With DCC. They discounted us the additional $10 that a DCC unit would have cost.
 
#10
The 2-8-0 is a great little engine. I have one with dcc and sound. If I recal it was modeled off an Illinois central version. It has lots of nice detail on it too..
 
#11
I expect, like the other Bachmann engines we have, that it will pull just fine on level track, but if he sets up the piers, it will struggle to pull two cars up the hill.
 





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