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How to Fit a Decoder to a DCC Ready Locomotive

First things first, what are you going to need? The two most important parts are the Hornby decoder and DCC ready locomotive. We’ve used a Class A1 Tornado in the pictures, though the process is pretty much the same for all locos that are DCC ready. Remember, the process below is for DCC ready locos only, it’s entirely different for the older, entirely analogue locomotives. Oh, you’ll also need a small cross head screwdriver, and that’s it!


The first thing you’ll need to do is remove the body of the locomotive. How to do this varies depending on the locomotive, so it’s best to check the operating and maintenance instructions. With the Class A1 Tornado, all you have to do is remove the Chassis/Body assembly screw (as seen below) that can be found on the underside of the front of the loco. Then drop the chassis down at the front and move it forwards to release it from the rear of the body.


Once the body and chassis have been separated, you should be left with something like this:


You’ll find the decoder socket towards the front of the train, though it will currently have a plug fitted in it like so:


This plug is easily removed by simply pulling on it, but always make sure to be careful! You should be left with something that looks like this:


Before installing your decoder, it’s important to make sure that you align it correctly. You’ll notice in the picture below that there is a small ’1′ to the top left of the plug. This corresponds with the small ’1′ found on one corner of the decoder plug, so make sure that these line up. If they don’t, there’s a good chance your loco won’t work!


Remove the small foam slab from between the pins of your decoder plug and then slot it into the holes on the locomotive, like so:


You should be left with something like the following picture. You’ll notice that the purple wire has a loose end, but it’s nothing to worry about. This is only used when the locomotive has functioning lights, so most of the time you won’t need it.


Where you put the decoder itself is entirely up to you. With this locomotive, we’re putting it into the nose section of the chassis. With others, you may be able to simply tape it to the actual body of the locomotive. Have a look at what you have and decide which is best for you.


Now replace the body onto chassis, careful not to pinch any of the wires of the decoder.


That’s it! Your locomotive is now ready for use on a Hornby digital track. Click here to see our blog post on how to set up your Railmaster software, or here to see how to use the software to reprogram your loco. Happy conducting!


To see our full range of Hornby products, including the decoder and loads of DCC ready locomotives, simply click here.