Convert a Hornby 0-4-0 to DCC
Can you tame Hornby’s wild train set 0-4-0s - and add working lights too? GEORGE DENT finds out.
Can you tame Hornby’s wild train set 0-4-0s - and add working lights too? George Dent shows you how.
It’s a sign of the times that buying new ‘OO’ diesel locomotives for pocket money prices has become a distinctly retro experience. But there are still bargains to be found: I managed to get hold of this Hornby ‘06’ for a smidgeon under £20 from Hatton’s - that’s what I paid for a new Lima Class 33 in 1986, having saved my 50p-a-week allowance for months. OK, so you might not get a great deal for your £20 nowadays (you didn’t in the 1980s either), but budget models certainly offer plenty of potential for detail upgrades and repaints. But what about DCC conversion? Few locomotives in this price bracket come DCC ready and, with such a small subject, there’s not a great deal of room inside for the digital goodies that we’ve become used to. Happily, with macro-sized decoders, going digital is easier than you may think, and adding a ‘Stay Alive’ unit can drastically improve the running characteristics of the basic mechanism.
The Hornby Class 06 shares a similar chassis and mechanism with a number of steam-outline 0-4-0s, such as the Caledonian ‘Pug’ (‘Smokey Joe’) of train set fame. Therefore, the following project applies equally well to any of these models, although the closed cab of a diesel provides more room to conceal a decoder. The ‘06’ is fairly primitive on a number of levels, both internally and externally. Some cosmetic detailing and a weathered finish would greatly improve its appearance, but here we’ll concentrate mostly on the model’s innards. Smooth, slow-speed running is essential for shunting locomotives. Anyone with any experience with these models will know that ‘smooth’ and ‘slow’ are not part of their vocabulary. Converting to DCC, however, offers the potential for superior control. I’m not usually keen on hard-wiring DCC decoders into older models, preferring to install a decoder socket, as found on DCC ready RTR products. If anything should go wrong with the decoder in future, or if I wish to upgrade, I can effect a swap without recourse to a soldering iron. As only one of my layouts is Dcc-operated, I like having the simple option of reverting to analogue control, too. By removing the decoder and inserting a blanking plug (again, as offered with DCC ready models), the locomotives can run on my analogue layouts. Luckily, I have a few spare eight-pin decoder sockets in stock, salvaged mostly from Hornby models that have been upgraded in the past (I never throw anything away!). In this case, the socket comes from a Class 121 ‘Bubble Car’ chassis and was complete with a pair of mounting screws.
As only an occasional DCC dabbler, I’m not au fait with the great number of decoders currently on the market. However, I knew that I needed something small that would slot into
With resistors installed, the oil lamps emit a realistic amount of light and the model now runs sweetly under digital control.