Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Adding a WOW Sound decoder to an Athearn Roundhouse 2-8-0 Steamer

Photo courtesy of Athearn/Roundhouse

While at the narrow gauge convention this year I picked up an Athearn/Roundhouse 2-8-0 from a vendor at a real good price. I didn't need it wasn't looking for it, but you know how that goes. He had two, a B&O and a Southern Pacific. Now I wish I had purchased both of them as I'm very impressed with this loco. Of course I won't keep it in B & O livery I plan on painting it standard flat black, but first I need to add DCC to this baby. In the past I always went with Tsunami, but since these came out I have been wanting to give it a run, so I bite the bullet and picked one up while I was visiting Discount Model Trains in the DFW area. I purchased the Wow101-KA-Steam (below) that comes with the large KA2 capacitor for Keep-Alive functions. This loco didn't really need this as it has driver and tender pickups, but again I wished to experiment with decoder. Look at the features!

Photos Courtesy of Train Control Systems

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The tender floor was already drilled out for a 1" inch speaker, the locomotive board comes DCC Ready with the 9 pin plug, so the only soldering that was required was the speaker. The board is raised above the speaker cavity, and there is enough room to sandwich the decoder body between the speaker and the bottom of the board. I neglected to take photos of this portion of the install, but TCS has a guide to how Michael McAnally did his with a TCS T1A decoder, (this is non sound and does not have a KA2 capacitor), but exactly how mine was done, the WOW Steam decoder fit fine with 25% of it extending from under the board into the open cavity between the board and rear of the tender shell. The only remaining space for the large KA2 capacitor is on top of the board, but bad news, not enough room.
So I removed the coal load (as the steamers in my area all burn oil after the large fire was started in the Bitterroots by a coal burner. 

With the coal load removed, I cut out the rectangular area highlighted above on red so the cap would lay on top of the board. 
The next challenge was to scratch build a oil tender, but first I searched the web and found this oil bunker on Shapeways. The creator designed it to fit on the Bachmann 4-6-0 and 4-4-0 steam locos. Guess what? By measurements, it should fit perfectly on top of this Athearn/Roundhouse tender, so I ordered it. Yes it was (in my mind) expensive for what it was, but it was an easy and quick solution, so I ordered the "Black Strong & Flexible Black nylon plastic with a matte finish and slight grainy feel"

How does it look? See below!

No adhesive has been used, nor would you need to add any. I will and of course repaint the engine and tender as I mentioned above. 

What do I think of the WOW101-KA-Steam decoder? You guessed it,.....WOW! 

Using the "Audio Assist" is easy and a great feature to select sounds and perform a decoder reset if you ever need to. I had some issues using Decoder Pro to play with this decoder, so I changed CV1 only and left the rest of the motor control cv's alone, as TCS tweaks them from the factory, and these work perfectly for me.

I'm very happy with this locomotive, decoder and decoder installation. Next I would like to add more details to the loco to bring it up to standards.

Thanks for reading!

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