Undocumented features

Several months ago, I received a Roco model of the BLS 486 locomotive ("Die Alpinisten: / "Gli Alpinisti" lettering), which I had ordered months before that.

While installing a decoder this month, I discovered, almost by accident, that the F1 function turns on the second set of headlights.  (The primary headlights have to be turned on with the F0 light control, and the second headlights change with direction of travel.)

This was not mentioned in the documentation that came with the model.  Of course, I bought the model as an analog model, without a decoder -- though, like all other current Roco models, the locomotive had a decoder socket.

As Roco also offers several other versions of the Swiss 486, I assume this feature also applies to those models, though I do not recall any mention of it in Roco catalogs.

Have any of you found other undocumented features on models, once you installed a decoder?

The experience with the BLS model will certainly prompt me to be sure to try out the F1 and F2 functions on other models when I install decoders.

-- Ernest


  • Hey Ernest,

    yes, all the time in fact !

    your "second" headlights are the high beam headlights which are mandatory for all new rolling stock put on the tracks in most European countries.
    I have one Trix 218 analog, put decoder in. No mapping change, right out of the box, the F0 turn head- and marker lights on. F1 turns off the lights on cab side 1, F2 on the other side ! Nothing in the instructions about that. It's on the board of the loco via transistors.

    For all Roco rolling stock of never era's, the behavior you described, applies to all loco's with the PluX interface.

    My ACME 120 even had the top light on separate AUX, so both sides together use 6 AUX.
    New Brawa loco's even got ALL SINGLE lights on one logical function, it's driven via the SUSI interface rather then the AUX of the decoders. Technically you can turn on/off every light on its on, if you map it that way. ( Comes in handy for Loco's running thru different countries, you can adapt the lighting. ( Swiss bottom right white marker light, e.g. )

    Also all new Piko rolling stock with the PluX22 interface got the lights all separate and EVERY AUX on solder spots for you to use as you desire, no more wires from the decoder or soldering at the interface.

    And yes, that cannot be found in any of the instructions coming with the loco's.



  • RailwriterRailwriter Durham, NC
    Hello Leif,

    Yes, I was aware that the additional headlights were the "Fernlicht" or high beams.  I find it interesting that in the past, Germany considered headlights mostly marker lights and actually prohibited Austrian locos from operating in Germany with their headlights on full bright.  (I was told that most German locomotive operators ignored this rule and actually liked the Austrian locos for their bright headlights.)

    I also have some newer Roco locos with Plux22 decoders and figured out which function options worked which lights.  At least on those, all the function assignments are the same.

    What I am wondering about is -- are there any efforts to standardize which functions control which options on locomotives.  The current practice appears to be that if a loco has only one function feature (such as digital uncoupling) that's assigned to F1.  

    That means that you have to keep track of which loco has F1 for which actual function.

    Yes, I know you can remap functions -- but that appears to be a lot of extra work.

    Most newer decoders -- particularly Plux16 and 22 -- now have enough function options so that, a function can be assigned to F6 or F7 in the name of standardization, even if there are no features connected to F1 and F2.

    == Ernest

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