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LGB 2060 Tips

LGB 2060 Tips

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lgb 2060This LGB 2060 industrial switcher originally came in a starter set. It doesn't look too much like the original due to the black paint and weathering. It was originally rather bright orange. LGB fanatics may cringe at the changes, but LGB locos make good razor saw fodder because they typically run well so that the eventual bash runs well too even though it may look trashed.

The purpose of this page is to document the installation of DCC, sound and into and then the eventual removal of this equipment from the loco. Then batteries and a radio control receiver were installed. Sound may or may not go back in later, but there's room for it assuming that the speaker gets mounted under the cab roof.


Isolating A Three Terminal LGB Motor Block

Many LGB locos are wired to allow them to accept a DCC decoder. The motor leads are brought out of the power brick separately from the track pickups. These locos are usually designated with a "D" at the end of the model number or on the bottom of the brick. However, this little 2060 that came in an industrial starter set is the older version with only three terminals on the top of the brick. It is not difficult to modify the wiring to isolate the motor.

To gain access to the wiring, most of the loco must be disassembled. First remove two screws at the end of each hood. Then remove the two steps under the cab and two more screws hidden way up in the tanks. These screws are accessed through holes in the bottoms of the tanks. With the cab loosened, the hoods will come off easily, then you can actually remove the cab.

There are two strap like brackets on the underside of the loco that hold the brick to the bottom of the frame. Remove the four screws that hold these brackets in place and pull out the brick. Then remove the wire terminals from the brick by pulling on each one. Note the colors of the wires that go to each post. Then remove two screws that hold on the brick cover and remove the cover. The motor can then be just pulled out of the brick.

There are three metal posts sticking out of the top of the brick. They are labeled br (brown), gr (green) and ws (weiss or white, but actually the wires were black). The black leads are the common leads and this is the area that needs modification to accept DCC. This engine doesn't have a motor switch, so the brown and green terminals were jumpered.

stock brick connectionsThe motor terminal tabs rest against the two outer posts. Electrical contact is assured by the spring action of the motor tab edges against the posts. The single inner post goes to the power pickups on one side. The outer post by itself goes to the power pickups on the other side. The other outer post doesn't go anywhere. Power is delivered to the post from the top through a green jumper wire. DCC installations absolutely require that BOTH motor leads be isolated from all other wiring and connected only to the DCC decoder itself. A simple and reversible modification is needed to isolate the motor.

wires added to motorThe motor tabs leave the motor at an angle with respect to the posts so that an edge presses against the post. All that is necessary is to use a pair of needle nose pliers to gently bend the motor tabs so that they are parallel to the posts and do not touch them. Wires are then soldered to the ends of the tabs and insulated with heat shrink tubing.

With the engine disassembled to this level, this is a good time to lubricate the engine with gear grease on both axle gears and oil on the axle bushings.

modified motor in brickThese wires are then routed by the posts and up through an access hole in the brick cover and along with the rest of the wiring up into the shell. I didn't bother to color code my motor wires because I usually figure out the correct polarity by test anyway. The LGB wiring is unmodified at this point and the wires terminals can be pressed back on the proper posts after the cover is reinstalled.

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DCC Decoder Installation

The 2060 and most other starter set engines are so simple the that DCC wiring is a snap once the motor is isolated. If directional lighting is not desired, then all that is necessary is to tap into one set of lighting wires for the DCC power input and to wire the two new wires to the DCC decoder motor output.

I chose to wire the headlights to the decoder to allow directional lighting. This is done by cutting the headlight wires about 1.5" away from the bulb sockets and splicing extension wires on them and wiring them to the decoder per the decoder manufacturer's instructions. I chose to extend the lighting wires because the rear headlight wires were too short to make it easy to get the rear hood back on. The remaining long wires that went to the front headlight were insulated and left ready to hook to a future sound system. The wire stubs that went to the rear headlight were used to power the DCC decoder.

2060 w/BFC installedThe decoder (a Digitrax DG580L) was installed under the front hood. The decoder is mounted crossways on the rear of the weight with some foam tape. A large storage capacitor (47,000 uF, 25 V) is also mounted on the weight. Refer to my DCC Tips page for more information on the capacitor. I didn't cut any of the decoder wires so the extra length is simply looped around to get it out of the way.

I typically don't pay much attention to the polarity of the motor or decoder power wires until I am ready to wrap up the installation. I just connect them and test the engine. If the engine goes the right way when running on DCC, the motor wires are correct. If not, I just reverse the motor wires and do a final clean up on the connections.

I then check the direction of the engine in analog mode by putting an unconverted engine on the same track. If the engines go the same way under regular track power, then the power leads are correct. If not, the decoder power leads are reversed and the connections are cleaned up.

Large scale locos use the opposite polarity convention as compared to HO, so the manufacturer's instructions about the left and right rails must be reversed. I've tried to keep the instructions straight, but I usually get one of the connections wrong anyway so I've adopted the cut and try approach. It works for me.

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Sound Installation With A Soundtraxx DSX Sound Only Decoder

DSX Sound Only DCC DecoderThis is a little engine, so I chose to install a little sound system in it. I selected a Soundtraxx DSX sound only decoder. This is a DCC decoder that doesn't have any motor controls in it, it reads the DCC packets and creates and controls sounds instead. I used and EMD 2-stroke type sound system, probably not appropriate for this loco, but it sounds like a diesel anyway. The audio output power is low by large scale sound system standards, but since I was going to drive a small speaker, a lot of audio power would not be usable anyway.

The Digitrax motor decoder and the Soundtraxx sound decoder are wired in parallel to the track. Each is programmed to the same address so they both respond to commands directed to the engine. Wiring two decoders in parallel pretty much wipes out the capability to program either one on the programming track as the command station sees too much load. In any event, the storage capacitor also makes programming on the programming track impossible anyway. I set the decoder address independently before they were wired together so that once they are installed, OPS mode programming can be used to program both of them. I'll only need to mess with the wiring to disconnect them if I choose to change their addresses.

1 inch speakerThe biggest problem in this installation is finding room for a speaker. I fished around for quite awhile before I concluded that a normal speaker just wasn't going to fit. This 1" speaker that came with a Dallee system. The photo is about twice its real size. I determined that it could marginally handle the power of the DSX and sound marginally acceptable IF it was mounted in a proper enclosure. I also determined that the "long" hood of the model would make an adequate enclosure if a few holes were plugged up and the speaker was mounted so that it projected into the cab. The sound could then escape the engine from the cab windows. Since only one window is normally open, I had to remove the rear window piece to allow enough sound to escape.

neat wiringTo properly seal the hood area, the wiring had to be cleaned up so that it was channeled along one side of the frame through a gap near the cab floor. The wire bundle nearly fills the gap and plugs it as good as it is going to get.

DSX in 2060 cabSome small tabs of styrene were used to plug the remaining gaps. A long gap between the wall that the speaker is mounted on and the floor is plugged by a strip of foam tape mounted to the floor. The speaker itself is mounted with hot glue over a hole cut in the wall of control stand in the cab. The DSX decoder is wedged in near the speaker and held with a couple of globs of hot glue. The DSX requires an external blocking capacitor in series with the speaker. It is mounted under the DSX and hot glued in a corner. At large scale track voltages, the DSX also needs a 39 ohm resistor in series with the track power leads. It is inserted in one of the power wires. I used DB-25 type connector pins to allow the cab assembly to be completely separated from the frame in the same fashion that I use to interconnect power between engines and cars.

In operation, I found that the DSX has some problems. The low audio output power coupled with a small speaker leaves something to be desired in sound level. Second, and more serious, the DSX requires excellent power continuity to operate properly. The 2060 doesn't have particularly good power pickup and the DSX looses power and resets often resulting in a series of pops and click when the track and wheels are less than clean. Other large scale sound systems with batteries can ride over power outages with little difficulty, the DSX cannot.

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DCC Removal

Even with all this work this engine's performance with DCC just didn't meet my expectations. After a year or so, I removed the DCC equipment and the engine became somewhat more tolerant to dirty track. I would appear that DCC is more suited to larger locos with better power pickup. In the future, I'll use DCC for the larger current hungry stuff for its precise control, virtually unlimited power and auxiliary function control. The smaller stuff will be left track powered or converted to battery power. A set of high performance batteries will drive a small loco well enough with the relatively light loads that this kind of loco can handle. Further, it will still coexist with the DCC stuff and it could run on track with any kind of power.

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Battery and Radio Control Installation in the 2060

Even running on straight track power and even with the sliders, the 2060 still doesn't have good enough power pickup to run on the same dirty track that the larger engines will run on without difficulty. There just aren't enough power pickup points to provide consistent power when each pickup point has low reliability by itself. There were two courses to follow, either clean the track or convert the loco to battery power with radio control. The track power option is cheap, but it doesn't allow command control. The radio control option involves some capital investment, but will allow the loco to run consistently and have command control. I choose to convert this loco to battery power.

I had two choices to make, what kind of batteries and what kind of R/C gear to install. The second choice was easy, I had recently converted an FA that had an Aristo ART-5490 mini-receiver in it to DCC so that the 5490 was available. I also had all the transmitters that I would need so that the receiver was a zero cash option, an easy pick. The 5490 isn't real small and the loco is so that there wouldn't be a lot of room for batteries. After testing the top speed of the loco with track power, I determined that I would need at least 16 volts to reach the speed that I desired. The 5490 has about 2 volts of drop so that implied about 18 volts worth of batteries. After playing with small battery packs made of dead alkaline AA cells and duct tape, I determined that I could get 15 AA sized cells in there with some room to spare. The cells would be arranged in a "flat" pack of 5 cells stacked 3 flats high. With the battery flats nested into each other, 15 AA cells just fit in the long hood with the front weight removed. The weight would be supplied by the batteries. 15 cells of NiCad or NiMH batteries gives a no load voltage of 18.75 volts.

The receiver would fit right behind the batteries, about 1/3 in the hood and 2/3 in the cab. The engineer had to go and part of the interior cab walls had to be hacked away, but it would just fit. The short hood was left alone with the weight left in place. A sound system might eventually fit in there.

stripped down 2060The 2060 was stripped down to the frame to make room for the new stuff. Since the motor and power contacts had already been wired up separately, the original harness was left in place. The lead weights are held in by one screw each accessible after the motor block is removed. Vertical clearance for the RX was going to be tight, so the engineer was removed and his mounting pad was ground off. The engineer is held in with a medium strength adhesive. I found that by bending him to one side, one corner of his mounting "puddle" lifted and I could pry it up to break the glue joint.

power switchIn most battery installations some sort of power switch is desirable to prevent the battery from being flattened while the loco is not in service. This can be done with disconnecting type power jack, but a switch is even handier. I used a sub-miniature toggle switch with a 3/16" mount. This switch is tucked into the very front corner of the long hood going down through the floor. The switch handle is accessible through a hole behind the front step. Since the lower and upper tier of batteries is offset half a cell width to the rear, there is room for the switch body and also the headlight wire coming down from the front of the hood.

charging jack inside viewA disconnecting type power jack is installed in the front well. The jack mounting tabs were too large to fit so they were trimmed and the jack was epoxied into place. I prefer to mount switches and jacks in the floor of the locomotive so that there is minimal wiring between the frame and the removable parts of the loco.

charging jack accessSince the batteries will be bottled up inside the loco, external access is desirable for connecting to the battery charger. The jack as mounted can be accessed through the round hole behind the other front step.

NiMH cellI choose to use a high capacity NiMH battery consisting of 15 of these tabbed cells. The tabs make construction of a battery pack much easier. I have had poor luck with the reliability of NiCad batteries in the past in many other applications. The manufacturers claim that NiMH technology is more reliable and more tolerant to partial charges and discharges than NiCad technology. The energy density is higher, but so is the cost. This cell has a rated capacity of 1650 mAh. By my tests, this kind of cell is good for at least 1500 mAh, at least when new.

unwrapped battery packAfter the cells were individually charged in a regular AA NiMH charger they were soldered together into a pack. The rubber band was just to hold them together while they were being handled and before they were made into a complete pack. The pack was tested to make sure that it had the right open circuit voltage to make sure that no cells had been wired backwards. For freshly charged NiMH cells, you will expect about 1.4 volts per cell. The pack made 21.1 volts. Under load, it will drop quickly to 1.25 volts per cell and stay there for most of their discharge.

wrapped battery packA piece of 3" shrink tubing was used to wrap the pack permanently. This stuff shrugged off the puny hair dryer that I use to shrink small tubing. I used a gas match on this stuff to get it to shrink around the cells. After shrinking, this pack is solid.

pack installed in hoodThe pack was test fit into the hood. Initially I attached it in the hood, but later I determined that it was just as effective to attach it to the frame so that the wiring would not be stressed and the engine could be more easily tested without the hood.

schematicThis is the diagram of the wiring. Its about as simple as it gets. I initially choose to run the lights from the motor output but later I modified the circuit to allow the lights to be directional. If they were wired to the battery, they would burn absolutely constantly and be non directional They would also drain the battery while the engine was on but standing. With the addition of the diodes and capacitors, they are directional, nearly constant intensity (as long as the engine is moving) and only one is on at a time so that the battery drain is minimized. In the photo below, the capacitors can be seen at the right of the photo before they were insulated with shrink tubing.

The charge jack that I used is a disconnecting type. When the charger is plugged in, the loco is disconnected automatically. This is not really necessary because the power switch can be used to disconnect the loco during charging.

5490 install in 2060The 5490 is attached to the floor with a little Lexel adhesive. The code set switch is attached across the heat sink of the 5490 with hot glue, but if it breaks off, I'll reattach it with Lexel. It is just accessible through the center rear cab window which the engineer has conveniently left open.

The antenna wire was pinched as a result of some past problem and it broke just about in half. The half that is left is not quite adequate as the control range is only about 10'. Some more work was clearly required on the antenna.

When the wire was repaired, and extended to it's original length, no amount of fiddling with it would produce a control range exceeding 15'.

It finally stopped raining so I set up the loco for test. I loaded it up just below wheel slip (just two Aristo box cars with metal wheels) and let it run at full speed. It ran at nearly constant speed for 3-1/2 hours and then abruptly slowed to a crawl. The receiver was not perceptibly warm at the end of the test and the motor was just warm. While this was a little less than I expected, it is good enough.

As an experiment, I cut the antenna to about 6" and soldered the end to a now unused power pickup. The result was rather amazing. The range increased to at least 50' (the full width of my yard) and it appeared that it would work well beyond that. The antenna circuit is DC blocked so that if a track powered train is used at the same time, the DC voltage will not damage the 5490. Even with a DCC signal (23 volts p-p) on the track, the engine ran fine. It also ran fine with a regular loco running on PWC on the same track with all its motor noise injected back on the track. The 2060 also ran fine with another regular loco running as the analog loco with DCC on the track. I can only conclude that the experiment was a success.

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© 1999-2002 George Schreyer
Created Jan 22, 1999
Last Updated March 9, 2002