Installing a DCC decoder into a Hornby Class 8F Loco that is DCC Ready

Click on each image for a more detailed view

Hornby 8F

This installation really is one of the most straightforward in a steam loco as the engine is DCC ready. The most difficult part is relocating the chassis into the body ensuring that the fine details at the rear are not broken and that the sand pipes are located correctly.

You will need a small Phillips screwdriver to undo the screw securing the body to the chassis at the rear of the cab and a small standard screwdriver for the screw at the front.

Before installing a decoder into any loco it is advisable to check the current being drawn by the loco.

The underside of the 8F


The body is secured to the chassis with 2 screws, one at the rear under the footplate and the other under the front bogie. There is no need to remove the bogie as the screw can be accessed through the hole in the bogie. Removing the screws is easy; replacing the front one can be a little more tricky.

The body can then be lifted gently away from the chassis. Pull the chassis away from the body at the rear first. Be careful as you try to separate the two parts as there are some very fine body details that could get damaged with rough handling. The body is a tight fit and needs to be levered gently pulling alternately on front and back until the two separate.


Location of NMRA socket in 8F

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

You should also check that the soldering underneath the board is of a sufficiently high quality and does not lead to any shorts. To do this you will need to unscrew the circuit board and tilt it slightly to view the underside.

There is plenty of space inside the front of the loco for a small decoder. This installation used a TCS M1 UK decoder, one of the smallest decoders on the market, with a short harness for UK locos, but a TCS DP2X-UK decoder with no wires would also be suitable for this installation.


Locating 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, with the orange wire at the front left as you look from the rear of the loco . Pin 1 is clearly marked alongside the socket.

It is also possible to disable the capacitor by cutting through one of the legs securing the capacitor to the motor with a pair of wire cutters. This action is recommended to improve the performance of the loco with a decoder installed, but be aware that disabling the capacitor may invalidate your warranty.

It is suggested that you do any programming of the decoder, before replacing the body.

The decoder wires will need to be folded so that the decoder can be located inside at the front of the motor block, as shown in the photograph.



8F body showing sandpipes

Replace the body carefully, making sure that the sand pipes at the rear are correctly located, and replace the screws.

There are a number of other very fine body detailing parts that can be easily damaged whilst handling the body so do handle the body with care.

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