Installing a DCC decoder in a Heljan KESTREL Loco
Click on each image for a more detailed view
Last updated 5 April, 2020
Heljan Kestrel


Installing the decoder in this loco is extremely easy. Getting the body off and on again is more of a challenge, even though the instructions supplied by Heljan imply that it is very easy!

This installation used a TCS T1P-UK decoder but any decoder with a rating of 0.8 amp or more should do the job. Tested on DC, at an average speed the loco draws 0.4-0.5 amps and at full speed 0.6 amps. Stall current is over 1 amp.

You don't need any screwdrivers but 4 small pieces of stout card will be required. These are used to keep the 4 lugs located around the body away from the chassis. The body is an EXTREMELY tight fit to the chassis. Use finger nails to gently prise each lug away from the body and put a piece of card in the gap to stop the lug relocating itself into the chassis.

Once the 4 pieces of card have been inserted gently lever the body away under each cab door - there is tape here and levering gently will snap the body away from the chassis. When there is visible movement of the body upwards VERY GENTLY jiggle the body from side to side, at the same time trying to move it upwards away from the chassis.

WORD OF WARNING - when handling the loco to separate body from chassis beware of fragile and loose parts. Bogie sideframes detach themselves easily and the buffer beams also fit loosely and it is easy to snap the plastic lug positioning the buffer beam in the chassis. There is also a cable attached at each end of the body which can be easily broken as it is separated from the chassis.


Kestrel - body removal


Note that the body cannot be lifted well away from the chassis as it is restrained by the lighting wires. Be careful as you separate body from chassis not to pull the two too far apart too quickly or you will damage the lighting wires.

The loco is DCC ready, having a socket installed in the middle of the loco. Gently lever the dummy plug out of the socket.

There is plenty of space inside the loco for almost any size of OO/HO decoder.

Kestrel DCC socket Kestrel DCC socket

Location of decoder

Firmly push the plug attached to the decoder into the socket, being careful not to bend the pins. Make sure the decoder is correctly orientated.

It is suggested that you do any programming of the decoder and test the setup to check lighting is working before fully replacing the body.

Replace the body carefully, sliding one end of the body on to the chassis first, gently placing the plastic moulded cable over the buffer beam. Repeat the process at the other end and clip the body fixing lugs onto the chassis.

The intensity of the forward facing light on Kestrel is very bright. Without reducing the brightness there is also light bleed between components around the inside of the cab. See the table below for adjusting CV values on TCS decoders to give a more acceptable light level.

2 or 3

For Zimo decoders check that CV114 is set to 0 and then try setting CV60 to 100. If this is still too bright lower this value a little further.


Back to DCC Installation Index >>

Back to DCC Page>>

Copyright Bromsgrove Models