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Discussion Starter #1
I hope I get this right, fingers are crossed.

Scope: To converting a Gilbert 322 to DCC operation with motion, sound and smoke. In addition to convert a single Gilbert S gauge circular track of 116 feet from the present AC operation to DCC.

Greetings, I hope to share this conversion project with the forum and ask for any and all inputs that you might offer. I thought it might be good to have all this information in one posting for easer comments. It has been suggested here on the forum that I have a well defined plan in place to start and I agree 100 % and thank you all for your comments so far that are helping to structure the project.

So far I have broken down the work into two areas, although subdividing into more might be better, one being the 322 and the other the rail system. The 322 is currently on the bench waiting for parts from Port Lines for the chassis re-bushing. I have tried to think of some of the items the locomotive will need and any other things you think of please comment. The DCC components listed here are the extras from my HO layout build. They could change if needed. To date the planning stage is foremost and your comments are welcome.

Note: Thanks to Carl and Robert for the cam and chassis layout concept. A MUST SEE > www.tuveson.com, > TMCC for S, > Robert Buckner's Custom AF 0-8-0 and Northern.

Gilbert 322 Hudson Engine work needed:
Chassis re-bushing, can motor conversion, cam fabrication and install for chug input, Motion / Sound decoder install, MTH smoke unit interface & install, final 322 assembly and testing.

Components on hand:
322 Hudson locomotive, S-n-S can motor stall current ( 1.83A at 13.8 vdc ), MTH small O smoke unit & power pcb being shipped.

Components to order:
Decoder: TBD, looking at a Digitrax DH465 (4 Amp) with a SFX006 sound bug,
MTH Smoke unit interface? Decoder dependent?
Cam switch: On hand.
Components in fab: The cam, it's drawings are being produced for local 3D fabrication


Gilbert S gauge tract work needed:
Power districts track isolation, Pull wires, 14 gauge?, Order PM42 & Edge Connector, install the S gauge program track, update JMRI software,

Power distribution and power district components:

Main power supply. On hand. Digitrax PS2012E. Settings? G = 23 V at 12 A, HO = 16V at 16 A, N = 13.8 at 20A
Command and control systems. On hand. Digitrax DB150 or DCS100 rated at 5 amp.
District circuit breakers. To order. Digitrax PM42 4 Independent power sub-divisions.
Card Edge Connector. To order. Digitrax cardedge con 44 3-Pack card edge connector.
Isolated programming track &
Programmer On hand. Digitrax PR3 or PR4 with JMRI software.
Throttle & Interface On hand. Digitrax DT400 Throttle & UR90 or
DT400R Throttle & UR91.

My thoughts for far and thank you for reading.
 

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Great Post Doug. You have organized this well and have a planned implementation laid out.
I did not see a possible speaker listed. About three months ago Ed Goldin repaired one of my TMCC E8's. He put in a new speaker he had just identified. The sound quality and volume is far better than the prior speakers in my E8's. You might ask him about the new speakers he is using. Carl Tuveson just posted a video of his new Legacy Berkshire. The Legacy engines have good speakers and custom molded enclosures. Carl already modified his new Berk to add a low pass filter in line before the speaker. The sound is definitely improved. I can see I will be sending my two new Berkshires to Carl for the low pass filter and the pilot truck mod. For your Hudson, the tender is relatively tight. You may need to drill a few holes in the tender chassis for the sound.
One suggestion on the track wiring. It sounds like there will be a 14ga set of buss/feeders around the layout. Assuming the maximum length of a drop is around 2' to attach to the buss then use 16ga for the drops. It is easier to solder and the voltage drop is negligible.
For the wiring between the tender and engine even though it will only be 2 wires I recommend you use the superflex wires. Gilbert steam engines are different than Lionel and most HO in that the engines do not have any power pickup, the tender does that. The tender trucks need to be closely inspected to assure the axle holes are not worn. If they wear, the bottom of the side frame can touch the rail and short out on turnouts. Not good for the DCC system. I think Ed Goldin has a repair for the worn axle hole problem. Also, be sure to use tender trucks that have the sliding pickup shoes. These are essential for good DCC pickup continuity.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Tom, good bring up on the speaker. I'll check with Ed and with Carl about the speaker and filter. Regarding the track wiring,
I thought to set up 4 even rail length districts and bring a 14 ga wire from each one back to the PM42 at the C&C and power supply location as it would be a focal point for the individual district breakers. I have read that some builders have soldered jumpers across each rail section connection to remove any connector pin issues??
The locomotive wiring with superflex wires is good thinking although there may be more than 2 as the smoke unit will need some as well. Do you know a source for superflex wires?
Good points on the tender, Sound holes for sure and I'm going to add ed's bushing to the axles. This tender has the sliding pickups already so that is covered.
Thank you for the additions Tom.
 

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I bought mine from PortLines, Flyernut may have other sources. I suppose you could also get a roll of it on eBay or Amazon.
The issue with conductivity is why flex track is great for permanent layouts. A drop can be soldered to each 3' piece and the pins are not needed for electrical purposes. With 10" track sections that is a lot of soldering. One reason I use the conductive, anticorrosion grease on all my track joiner pins. Its a risk decision if you want to solder jumpers across all the track joints but if you are only connecting one feeder per power district I think you will have to do it. I have a feeder about every 10' to minimize voltage drop through the rails.
 

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FYI Soundtraxx has the TSU-4400 and it is a 4 amp which I think would work better. You may want to look at that before you make up your mind.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
my districts broke into 4 sections of 29' based on the PM42 which is a 4 channel breaker system. I think that if I do solder on jumpers it would be the best in the long turn. I want the rails to be solid and not a constant issue. Hi Ed, thanks for the note on the TSU 4400 I have a request in to Soundtraxx regarding the smoke unit control and if the 4400 would work. We shall see. If not then the cam switch might just be the initial ticket for the fan drive. Wow that 4400 is pricy it must perk coffee as well.
Some updates:
The Digitrax PM 42 is on order as well as the YC53 Y power jumper for the main power supply. Ed's Fat Boy speaker and the Bushing kits for the tender are also ordered. Part Numbers were supplied for the MTH smoke units, the fan motors and the Wick Material. Thank you Ed.
The drawings are almost finished for the 4 lobe cam which will now be sized to add an additional switch for the smoke fan control just in case.

The 322 cast pieces are going through paint removal and brushing, the last piece is the tender. It seems that all of the cast tenders that I have stripped take longer? I use Purple "Super Clean" and "Purple Power" for the castings and Simply Green for plastic shells. Most can be found at an auto parts store. Use with CAUTION and water flush well when you finish both the castings and yourself.

The Initial Cleaning.
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After a light brushing.

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Prime and paint for these parts when the tender casting is finished.

Thanks to everyone for your comments and help.
 

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I have used the Purple Super Clean on plastic and it seemed to work OK for me.......is there some reason you are not using it? Yeah I know the 4400 is on the expensive side and will be interesting to see what they say.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I too have used it on plastic shells and it works good, just don't don't leave the shell in very long and I found that I needed to stay with the shell until the paint is gone. I did find with some GP7 shells that I left in too long that the plastic softened a little. If you know how to make it work it's a good product. Simply Green is much more forgiving but takes 2x the time.

I'm still waiting on Soundtraxx to reply although Digitrax did reply that they don't have a decoder that will support the smoke unit as well as the higher current for the motor. So................. Maybe we try the TSU4400 anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Following some of the great comments here regarding the tender, here is some of the tender chassis prep work that was completed. Thanks for the comments on the tender.

Bushing upgrade that corrects worn side frame axle openings. and improved connections of the pickup components.

Initial bushing components:
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90% IPA cleaning of the side frames.
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Bushing Install: A drop of Cyanoacrylate in the bottom of the side frame and then a drop on top of the bushing.
Using a Q tip to install the bushing. Once in press and hold for several seconds. Allow drying time for all the bushings

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Removing the old axles: The plastic wheel pulls off the axle easy. A block of 2x4 with a drill hole and steel washer will allow the axle to be lightly tapped down through the metal wheel.

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Install the tapered axle in the metal wheel and use the block to hold the wheel while lightly tapping the axle in. Stop when you reach the end of the splines on the axle. Place the plastic wheel on the block and again lightly tap the axle in. Check that the axles protrude evenly out both of the wheels. Use the New Dime trick to set the wheel spacing.

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Improving the pickups connections. A little solder on the copper pickup and center rivet. The side of the shoe box was also tack soldiered to the truck.

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Next step is the Sound decoder and speaker installation. Thanks for all your comments.
The bushing kits will work on all rolling stock as well. You can see them here. www.goldinhands.com
Click on "American Flyer Wheel Upgrade Kit". Thanks again Ed.
 

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I have two thoughts.....I don't know what you are using to protect the electronics in your engines but look at the PSX AC and here is the website

Second thought is not to solder the track together as it needs to contract and expand with the temperature and humidity in the house. I had a customer's track that actually buckled account all the joints were solder.
 

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Ed, the AC versions of the PSX boards do not have breakers included on the board. Therefor the PSX1-AC is needed if the power supply does not have circuit protection. Since I use ZW-L's they provide more than adequate protection, the foldback feature is amazing. I think the DCC version of the boards have breakers included on some of the boards. They are on the PSX-AR. Doug should verify this because it is easy to do quick damage to electronics with no fast acting circuit protection.
The idea of leaving some track joints unsoldered is a good one if the layout is in unconditioned space like a garage, attic or basement. What I find interesting is the affect humidity changes have on the layout. Since my layout is in a former bedroom the temperature range is 65F to 80F, not enough to make any observable changes in the solid NS rails. However the humidity can range from a low of 15% during a Santa Anna condition to 80% when cool ocean air blows in. This causes the wood layout structure to shrink and swell. When the humidity drops visible gaps open up between backdrop panels and the 4' wide swing gate operates with no interference. At high humidity levels the gaps close in the backdrop and the swing gate expands to a tight friction fit.
 

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Tom my basement layout is humidity controlled by way of a whole house dehumidifier so I have seen no real changes in anything. I have found a new use for my racing days weather station equipment which monitors temp, humidity and barometric pressure. Nice back up to check things. I have no soldered track joints. Humidity was my main concern when I thought of building my layout in the basement so shortly after buying my house I had the whole HAVAC system replaced.

Kenny
 

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I am aware of no need for heat but the lack of A/C surprises me. Must be because of the ocean air? I can see how you would have the humidity sings. I can remember when I lived in Arizona we could get by with a swamp cooler which is nothing more than a very large dehumidifier mounted on the outside of houses or on the roof of older houses. If you had grass, (I can't imagine why), the water from the cooler could water the grass if you attached a garden hose to it and moved it around. You could get cool house air circulation up to a certain temperature then it was A/C time. Those coolers were good in the spring and fall. months. About 3-4 months of the year. By needing heat or A/C only about 3 months a year, that must really make your utility bills very cheap. I wish.

Kenny
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Greetings, If you have a moment take a look at the Digitrax PM42 Quad Power Manager. It has adjustable short circuit management for up to four districts. It is fed from the Command Control unit, DB150, which has short circuit protection. The DB150 is fed from the PS2012E which also has over-current protection. I'm hoping that the PM42 which feeds the districts will be what is needed.
 

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Pm42s will do the job. Great protection and management. I have a couple of them. Not hooked up cause the layout is not built. I only have a 4X8 DC layout right now. With that 8 amp command station, PM42s are a must. Initional plan was an around the basement walls HO layout. Sticking a S scale layout in there also has changed my plans. When I was planning my dream HO layout S scale was nowhere in the vision. Now I will need to do reverse loops. AR1s will be used on the loops. And I might try to squeeze an O scale layout
somewhere.I like all scales. I like model trains.
 

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Doug, I looked at the PM42. First, that device is a bargain for what it does. I think it would be great to use on an S gauge layout depending on the behavior of one feature. Here goes; they use the term sub-districts, likely because it just subdivides the current from one source. I could not tell from the website description if the PM42 divides the input into 4 equal parts or if it lets each output draw as much as needed from the input up to the rated capacity of the source. For example if the source is an 8A booster does each output get 2A max or can one output draw all 8A if needed? If the outputs are fixed at 1/4 of the input it will not work for S gauge. If the outputs can draw as high a percentage of the input as needed then its a go.
 

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Each of the 4 districts can be adjusted separately. Does that answer your concern? Each district can be set to blow
at say 2 amp, or 3 amp, whatever.
 
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