Installing a DCC decoder in a Hornby 2-HAL (and 2-BIL*)
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Before installing chip into any loco it is advisable to check the current being drawn by the loco. You should test the current drawn when the loco is stalled to find the peak current and select a decoder that will cope with that maximum current requirement. You will need a small flat screwdriver for this installation.
If you have not yet removed the loco from its packaging do heed the warning on the printed instructions which come with the model to release the model from its packaging by using the finger holes underneath. I had great difficulty releasing the motor car as it was a very tight fit and had I just pulled it from above would have broken some of the very fine detail on the model.
This installation is reasonably straightforward. There is no electrical connection between the power and dummy cars though there are pickups on both bogies of the power car. Because of this it was decided to use a ZIMO MX631R direct plug 8-pin decoder with a capacitor fitted to overcome any dead spots on the trackwork.
Removing the body is reasonably easy, but you will need to be careful. The body is held in place with 4 plastic lugs, one at each corner, on the underside of the model. The lugs are part of the glazing moulding and are very easy to snap off if you use too much pressure.
I found it easier to work from the rear of the unit, releasing the rear lugs first and then gently separating body from chassis at the rear, gradually moving forward and releasing the front lugs.
Once the chassis is clear the location of the decoder socket becomes obvious. The blanking plug can be removed by hand by grabbing hold of the ends of the plug and gently wiggling it free.
* The latest 2-BIL installation I have done found the 8 pin socket at the rear of the motor unit. It was almost impossible to release the seating which seems to have been glued in place. However, there is not enough space under the seating for a decoder so I had to revert to securing the decoder in the roof of the unit and securing the wires to the internal backwall with black electrical tape.
The capacitor was soldered to the wires from the decoder, grey to negative and blue to positive legs, the legs having been trimmed to a more reasonable length to fit into the model. Heat shrink sleeving had been placed over the wires before soldering and then slid into position before shrinking.
Insert the 8-pin decoder into the socket. Make sure it is round the right way by checking the position of pin 1!
Test and program the loco before fitting the body.
Space for a decoder and capacitor is fairly limited in this model so it was necessary to place the body alongside and work out where the deepest recesses were in the seating in order to allow the body to be located correctly over the decoder and capacitor. It was easier to replace the body by putting the seating in place first and then replacing the body and snapping it into position.
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