I have some old Fleischmann locomotives from the late 80s and would love to have them converted to digital. I am wondering if anyone knows of a place that can do this. I am assuming I could do this, but I am not very comfortable with my skills. I read some of these posts and I get a little intimidated. Thanks.


  • RailwriterRailwriter Durham, NC

    Reynauld's can do this work for you.

    However, let me first offer some things to think about:

    • How difficult would it be to convert these locos? A primary factor is whether there is sufficient space for a decoder -- without having to mill out space.
    • Based on that, is it really worth converting the old locos? Depending on the difficulty of the installation, this can run you in the range of up to -- and possibly even more than -- $200 per loco.

    Today, you can get many loco models for under $200 -- ready for decoder installation -- or for just over $200 with a decoder installed. (Yes, some models will be more expensive.) These locos will already have such features as LED lights and separately switchable tail lights. Again, you can have LED lights and other features professionally installed in an older loco, but that will add to the total cost of the work being done. Newer locos will typically also have newer and smoother running electric motors and better detailing.

    So, unless the loco is of special sentimental value or a model for which nothing similar is available, make the comparison.

    On the other hand, over time you will become more comfortable with digital operation. About a decade ago I was at nearly point zero with digital. Now, I feel I have a reasonable understanding and fell comfortable doing all sorts of work with it.

    For example, I converted one older Roco locomotive that did not have any provision for a decoder. Fortunately, I was able to find a small Austrian business that offers replacement circuit boards for many such Roco locomotives. The replacement circuit board not only had a decoder socket, but pre-installed LED lights and some other features. The whole operation, which took about half an hour, involved unscrewing the old circuit board, unsoldering a few wires -- then soldering these wires to the new circuit board and screwing that back in. After I plugged in a decoder and programmed that decoder, the loco was ready to go. It now runs fine in both digital and analog mode.

    I have several older locos, for which I have decided that conversion to digital is simply not worth it. Among other things, some of these have very deep wheel flanges -- typical of many older models -- which will not run well on code 83 track, which is fairly much the current standard for HO track.

    On the other hand, I do have some older analog equipment which I feel reasonably confident that I can convert to digital at some point in the future. Over time, I have gotten better with the use of soldering and heat-shrink tubing -- and there are even kits from various manufacturers which can help with such work.

    But, I also have one small loco with some sentimental value for which it will probably be worth-while to pay a professional to do the work.

    Just some things to think about.
    -- Ernest

  • michaelrose55michaelrose55 Orange City, FL

    I agree with Ernest, do it only if a loco has special value to you. Otherwise you're better off with newer models that offer more and better features and better running as well.

  • Thanks. The only special value it has was it was the first German locomotive I purchased. I think I will wait and see and go with your ideas and suggestions. Thanks again.

  • BR42BR42 Auburn

    I disagree, it is worth while to convert the loco unless they have a solid metal motor shield. Otherwise, just separate the left holder for the motor brushes to isolate the motor from the frame. Several slice with a sharp hobby knife through the metal on top of the insulating bottom will do the job. Just slice carefully without too much pressure. Use a multi-meter to ensure that both brushes are isolated. Space for a decoder is always to be found. Get a tiny Digitrax DZ123 or DZ141, they fit easily and deliver up to 1.0 A continuously . I have been able to these even in the tender of steam locos like 38.10, 39, 01. TCS has even a smaller decoder with the same power, used it in Roco's E 71 and 1189.


Sign In or Register to comment.