Decoders for older Hornby locos?

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joshv8
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Decoders for older Hornby locos?

Postby joshv8 » Sat Jan 15, 2022 11:04 pm

As Im starting my venture into DCC, just with the Hornby select Im finding it quite enjoyable. Being an end to end layout Im really only running one loco at a time... two at most.
I have my Hornby J15 and A4 Mallard both DCC ready to purchase 8 pin decoders for.
As I order I want to purchase a few extra decoders for some of my older... 80s era Hornby locos.
One has a smoke unit... the rest have no accessories. I really want them just to run although the loco with the smoke unit would be nice to have the ability of operation.

Am I fine with these older locos just using Hornby 4 pin decoders? Does it need to be minimum 6 pin to run accessories?

Cheers,
Josh

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Roger (RJ)
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Re: Decoders for older Hornby locos?

Postby Roger (RJ) » Sat Jan 15, 2022 11:15 pm

I would recommend you consider other makes of decoders. My first choice would be Zimo, Lenz or ESU.

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Flashbang
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Re: Decoders for older Hornby locos?

Postby Flashbang » Sun Jan 16, 2022 9:59 am

I agree with Roger(RJ). My choice is Zimo and Lenz
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Mike Parkes
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Re: Decoders for older Hornby locos?

Postby Mike Parkes » Sun Jan 16, 2022 10:21 am

Really you need to check the stall current drawn by the motor; ie with a multimeter in circuit and full power applied with the loco held stationary. Then ensure whatever decoder you fit is rated for at least that current (measured in amps)

Coastal DCC have a decoder selector where you can pick various options including peak amps, In terms of overall type of decoder pick NEM652 and NEM652 wires; NEM652 have a 8 pin plug on the end of the lead which you will need to cut off to directly wire a decoder while NEM652 wires obviosuly do not. Also pick a fair number of peak amps beyond the minium rating needed. https://www.coastaldcc.co.uk/decoderselector.php

Bigmet
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Re: Decoders for older Hornby locos?

Postby Bigmet » Sun Jan 16, 2022 1:08 pm

Further to the above comments with which I generally concur: for my money go directly to Zimo for older models, if you want the running performance to match as closely as possible what current mechanisms deliver. I have been using Zimo as 'mechanism tamers' since I became aware of this brand about fifteen years past, as the prodigious choice of motor control adjustments will cudgel the most stubborn 'coffee grinder' into delivering smooth running. Of course it cannot overcome basic limitations of the mechanism, and thus won't cure noise output or enable a motor with low torque to deliver a creamy smooth start; and the lengthy manual needs to be read, and then the CV settings patiently adjusted and trialled to find the best possible result.

It has been a very welcome development that Zimo's MX6xx series for a couple of pounds more (UK price) over the Lenz Standard, offers such a comprehensive CV set for this purpose; until quite recently only available at a much higher price. (And then Zimo have iced the cake by offering all the commonly used connectors, to which development Lenz have shown no signs of responding; ESU, I know nothing, really not much UK presence is my perception, unless you want sound effects.)

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joshv8
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Re: Decoders for older Hornby locos?

Postby joshv8 » Mon Jan 17, 2022 10:47 am

Thankyou to all for your responses.
Mike Parkes
I plan to go out to the shed tonight and check the stall current. Watched a few videos on you tube so I understand the process.

From there I can see who offers a suitable decoder however after your comments Bigmet the Zimo sounds promising and everyone agrees on their quality.
I dont plan to add sound or accessories, I just want these older locos converted to run.

So whats the advantage over the Hornby decoders? I find lots of posts with people recommending other brands but little to state any issues with them or advantages using other brands?
Cheers,
Josh

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Re: Decoders for older Hornby locos?

Postby Suzie » Mon Jan 17, 2022 12:53 pm

Some of the Hornby decoders will not be able to supply sufficient current for older motors, especially ones where the magnets have become weakened with age.

Your select does not put out a good waveform so you will need to use good decoders to get good response from your locos, only the very expensive Hornby Sapphire decoder from the Hornby range will be any good, and still not as good as a cheaper Zimo decoder.

Measure the current consumption of the smoke unit in your loco, and if it is less than half an amp you should be able to connect it directly to a function output on a Zimo decoder. You probably won't need to run it at full power though so adjust the 'brightness' of the function output for the appropriate amount of smoke.

The only advantage the Hornby decoders have over any other is that they are available at any Hornby retailer, they have no redeeming features other than that. They are very poor value.

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Re: Decoders for older Hornby locos?

Postby Bigmet » Mon Jan 17, 2022 4:00 pm

Suzie wrote:Some of the Hornby decoders will not be able to supply sufficient current for older motors, especially ones where the magnets have become weakened with age.

Your select does not put out a good waveform so you will need to use good decoders to get good response from your locos, only the very expensive Hornby Sapphire decoder from the Hornby range will be any good, and still not as good as a cheaper Zimo decoder...

Here we hit a problem though, if Joshv8 is using a Select, the programming capability is severely limited, won't be able to access most CV's...

joshv8 wrote:...So whats the advantage over the Hornby decoders? I find lots of posts with people recommending other brands but little to state any issues with them or advantages using other brands?...

How much time have you got to read a list?
My major one would be poorer performance for more money.
I have bought several Hornby locos 'on offer' at good prices that were factory DCC fitted, and thus came with Hornby's basic 0.5 A decoder. In every case the steam loco mechanism outperformed the decoder, with the decoder removed the mechanisms achieved a slower and smoother crawl on an unregulated DC supply from my old H&M Duette. This characteristic limits the smoothness of starting and stopping which is one of the major performance assets of DCC for my taste.
Adjustment range is very limited, and the Hornby decoder even when put into the very easy to drive centre motor with flywheels and shaft drive to both bogies mechanisms could not extract optimal performance on these either. A jerk into motion, no adjustment to optimise the speed curve just for a start.
I ended up using these Hornby decoders as light switches for coaches with lighting. On/off they do.

Add to this that the Lenz Standard for the same money extracts all the refinement a Hornby steam mechanism can deliver - yet to find a RTR mechanism that outperforms it, while Zimo for a little more money has to date tamed every difficult mechanism I have yet encountered, and offers the significant conveniences of a range of fittings beyond 8pin: 21pin Next18, 6pin, PluX, and dimensional choices to better fit into tight locations. Only twice have I needed a CTE decoder for the expensive 'tiny but highly capable' performance that friend's very small traction models required.

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Mountain
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Re: Decoders for older Hornby locos?

Postby Mountain » Mon Jan 17, 2022 4:33 pm

One thing to bear in mind is with a few Ringfield motors. Most of them are easy as one isolates the motor contacts and the wheel contacts. One may need to turn off any back EMF or inertia setting in the decoders programming (Set them to 0 or if they don't set to 0 set them to 1) as some can be sensitive to the lack of pickups which work fine with DC but DCC is more sensitive. If the loco goes and then stops and goes and stops under DCC it will usually need the inertia turning off to solve the problwm.

Now here is a problem with a few (Not many) of the ringfield designs. One has to isolate both the motor pickups and the pickups at the wheels, but with the odd one or two ringfield style designs usually found in tender drive units (As yet all ringfield diesel locos were easy to deal with and isolate) they had a slightly different design in some of the tender drives in that a metal screw goes through and directly makes contact between one of the motor connections and the frame which touches the wheels and this is hidden because normally on the others it is a straightforward wire that slides via a connection onto the frame and the motor connection (Very visible). Sometimes the ones that have one of these hidden screws may also have the visible wire (Rare but be aware so one is not caught out).
Peters Spares were selling a replacement plastic screw to use instead if one comes across one of these. I only had one loco which was like this which I did not convert it to DCC. It was a tender drive Hornby Patriot class 4-6-0 loco. A friend who was running DC bought it from me as it was actually a nice little loco as it had been looked after by the owner before me. I was not really a LMS fan as I was into BR blue but I bought it with a few locos that were reasonably priced so I was going to use it for steam specials. :D

The other designs of loco that Hornby used to make are usually easy enough. Is more about finding suitable decoders to handle their stall current. I used mostly old Lenz decoders that were made before they came out with their gold and silver series.

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Re: Decoders for older Hornby locos?

Postby Flashbang » Mon Jan 17, 2022 7:58 pm

Hornby basic decoder has no adjustable CVs that can improve running via motor control adjustments.
The latest Select at firmware Version 1.6 or 2.0 does offer CV adjustments, which should cover 95% of what you may need to set a quality decoders CV settings to allow excellent running.
Older Selects should be firmware updated by returning to Hornby, but only once a returns/repair number is obtained for the firmware upgrade.

How do you know if your Select should be firmware updated? On start up the Select shows a series of three, two digit numbers. The first two are the Selects firmware version. So if it doesn't show 16 or 20 then consider getting it upgraded by Hornby. Cost is around £15 plus VAT and you pay sending P & P costs.
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Suzie
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Re: Decoders for older Hornby locos?

Postby Suzie » Mon Jan 17, 2022 11:10 pm

Bigmet wrote:
Suzie wrote:Some of the Hornby decoders will not be able to supply sufficient current for older motors, especially ones where the magnets have become weakened with age.

Your select does not put out a good waveform so you will need to use good decoders to get good response from your locos, only the very expensive Hornby Sapphire decoder from the Hornby range will be any good, and still not as good as a cheaper Zimo decoder...


Here we hit a problem though, if Joshv8 is using a Select, the programming capability is severely limited, won't be able to access most CV's...



You are unlikely to need to adjust any of the CVs when using a Zimo - they tend to work very well with the default settings, so well that I never bother changing anything other than the address, CV29 (to disable analogue mode), and sometimes the function mapping. There is unlikely to be any need to adjust the function mapping on a loco with no socket or just an NEM652 8-pin anyway.

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joshv8
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Re: Decoders for older Hornby locos?

Postby joshv8 » Tue Jan 18, 2022 7:31 am

Gee this is a lot of information to digest! Hahaha

I can see me upgrading from the Hornby controller soon enough, all considered. I wanted to lower the sound on the P2 and realised I cant with the select. But it does allow me to get the locos running and have a play and for what I paid there is sure no complaints. Flashbang, It does seem to be on the old software but if it can run trains back and forth its good enough for the time being? Im thinking sending the controller all the way to the UK is money better put towards another controller later.

Hornby locos I have found my P2 to be an excellent runner... its been absolutely faultless. Id hope so for what it cost.

The set B12 and J52 Im finding to still be hesitant at times.
Im guessing these would benefit from upgraded decoders?

Perhaps you guys would be good enough to suggest which decoders to purchase... i understand cost is factored but if for example if you can suggest a Zimo decoder thats fine. Over all Im not concerned with them costing a couple of extra dollars.

So what I need is :

2x 8 pin decoders

My Caledonian 812 is on its way from Rails of Sheffield and requires a Next18 decoder. (Sound decoder here but at £115 thats rather expensive)

And Id like to convert maybe 4 of my older locos,
My stall readings ( if correct) were
.470, .450, .560 and .670 .


Cheers,
Josh

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Flashbang
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Re: Decoders for older Hornby locos?

Postby Flashbang » Tue Jan 18, 2022 9:02 am

Hi
Sorry didn't realise you were in Aus!! Yes indeed, sending something back to the UK for an firmware upgrade would be expensive!
What firmware version is your Select at? Its the first two digits that are displayed on start up.
It may be worthwhile longer term in considering obtaining a new Select that is at Version 1.6 or 2.0 and use your older one as a add on controller, Hornby call it a Walkabout! You do not use the power lead and do not connect thee walkabout to the rails its connected to the master unit via a special data cable.
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Broken? It was working correctly when I left it.

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joshv8
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Re: Decoders for older Hornby locos?

Postby joshv8 » Tue Jan 18, 2022 9:45 pm

Flashbang wrote:Hi
Sorry didn't realise you were in Aus!! Yes indeed, sending something back to the UK for an firmware upgrade would be expensive!
What firmware version is your Select at? Its the first two digits that are displayed on start up.
It may be worthwhile longer term in considering obtaining a new Select that is at Version 1.6 or 2.0 and use your older one as a add on controller, Hornby call it a Walkabout! You do not use the power lead and do not connect thee walkabout to the rails its connected to the master unit via a special data cable.



Ahhh trying to recall the numbers... something and 30. The DCC sets 10 years or so old so probably Hornbys original software?
I had spoken to Dad-1 about joining 2 selects together but I suppose time will tell if buy an elite or something else or stick with the selects. Seems if I want to change more settings and have smoother running something more than a select is needed.

Cheers,
Josh

Suzie
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Re: Decoders for older Hornby locos?

Postby Suzie » Tue Jan 18, 2022 11:45 pm

Zimo decoders are as follows:-

NEM652 8-pin = MX600R (MX645R for sound)

Bare wires = MX600 (MX645 for sound)

Next18 = MX618N18 (MX658N18 for sound)

Often the older locos have a nice lot of room so you can fit a socket. I would recommend that you fit the Zimo ADAPLU PCB (has a 22-pin PluX socket that will take any PluX decoder) and use an MX600P12 decoder (or MX645P22 for sound) rather than just hard wire the decoder in - you never know when you might want to upgrade to sound or add extra functions later - having a socket with all the connections makes life so much easier.

As you can see the MX600 although a basic decoder has enough functions to drive the 12-pins, on the versions with a lesser plug the extra function outputs are still there but you will have to wire them outside of the plug and socket connections.


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