Sunday, 21 October 2012

A Tale Of Two 49s, Tsunamis & Sugar Cubes...


This weekend was spent fitting sound to the two 49 class branchliners on the roster.

The first attempted was 4917 & this loco is fresh out of the box albeit being in storage for a couple of years.  This was the first time i had attempted this class of loco & i was acutely aware that the limited space would be a test to this amateur sound fitter.

I have decided to standardise with Soundtraxx Tsunami AT 1000 decoders where possible & have so far successfully fitted these decoders to the Trainorama 44 & 42 class & an Austrains 442 class with little difficulty.

A point i have come to savour rather than fear is that with the use of this type of decoder...removal of the factory fitted circuit board is preferable & does offer a clean slate & more room for installation of the Soundtraxx decoder. 

All went smoothly with 4917 until a fault was found in the new decoder.  After installation was completed & the loco was placed either on the main or programming track both headlights ( either end ) would be on regardless of direction or whether selected to be on from the NCE handpiece.  After reseting the decoder offered no result   A call to the supplier all but assured me that i probably had done nothing wrong with the fitment & this type of fault in a new decoder while rare... does happen.  I had the option of sending the offending unit back...but elected to use this as a learning experience & wire the lighting through the alternative Function 5 & 6 tabs on the decoder & then programme these functions to operate as per usual.

I should state at this point that with the 49s... I decided to fit LEDs as replacements for the factory fitted headlights & do away with the marker lights altogether.  This decision while probably angering some is a personal one as i do not consider this option as important and as some of the fleet do not have this option i standardise & have all locos the same.

4917 was duly completed & i am more than happy with the finished result. I will now play around with the loco through DecoderPro & personalise some of the features & running qualities....Then it is off to be weathered & into service.

Now to 4910... a secondhand unit i purchased with Loksound already installed... This loco under power sounded more like fingernails being drawn down a blackboard rather than anything that travels on rails & cried out to be Tsunami-ised.  The same conversion methodology applied to this loco except the need to aquire a speaker setup as when it was fitted with Loksound the original speaker & enclosure were obviously discarded.

A search for a suitable speaker proved a little more difficult than expected.  The well known local DCC supplier i contacted seemed a little unsure about a replacement & so a couple of 8 ohm speakers were recommended & mail ordered... again this would prove to be a learning experience.  The first speaker was a common or garden 8 ohm unit... i am unsure why this unit was recommended as it had no hope of fitting into the hood of a 49 class anyway....the second speaker was sent purely as a trial for feedback and is nicknamed a " sugar cube".  It is manufactured by ESU and the little bugger only measures 14mm x 12mm with a thickness of around 5 mm with mounting tape.  After fitment of the decoder & sugar cube speaker the chassis was given a run & while the speaker's operation was does not stack up with the output afforded by the original speaker fitted to this class of loco ex factory.  With no other options to get this loco finished.... I raided a 47class I have & "borrowed" the speaker.  I still need to fit the LEDs & another branchliner will be ready for service.

I am sure i have said this before... if you are putting off installing sound for fear of the unknown....DON'T.  Once you have fitted sound to one loco, the bulk of the mystique will disappear & there is a another complete side to the hobby in learning & tweeking to get the best out of your locos.

4917 in the operating theatre....I must admit i like the DCC Concepts range of accessories....
There might be cheaper stuff out there but i like the quality of their stuff

4917 stripped of original board ( visible at bottom) Speaker will stay & all wiring will be tidied & readied before Tsunami is installed

Close up of the reatained factory speaker & enclosure.  Of interest is that the speaker enclosure also supports the No 2 end lighting circuit board & housing...

4910 being fitted with the Tsunami Decoder.  At far left is the No 1 end & headlight circuit board enclosure....
Of contrast is a comparison of the No 2 end of this loco & that of 4917....
The original speaker & enclosure had been discarded when the Loksound unit was installed.....This required a new enclosure & lighting support housing to be fabricated when converted back to Tsunami...

The Sugar Cube speaker & packaging
Close up of the Sugar Cube ESU speaker....
4910 with Tsunami & 47 class speaker & modified enclosure fitted
All that is required now is the fitting of the No2 end lighting & a final wiring tidy up.


  1. Hey Rod,

    It's good to see I'm not the only one who has recieved a dodgy Tsunami recently!

    It cost me $25 to send the thing back as their warranty policy states it has to be sent registered! After 3 weeks I've heard and seen nothing, so you probably made a good choice to keep it in the long run.....

    As for the sound, you have no regrets only dissappointment in that you need to spend a small fortune to do the rest!


    1. Ben,

      While completing my apprenticeship in sound fitting the fleet, I can never be sure that i have not done something wrong. Therefore i prefer to use these circumstances as a learning tool. I was offered a replacement decoder which is commendable & appreciated...but Function 5 & 6 have been a mystery for some time & now their use is a lot clearer. I have now dabbled in Loksound, QSI & Tsunami & i must say that i have no idea why anyone would move away from Soundtraxx... In saying that i have at least 3 Eureka offerings that have QSI & have no intention of changing these units out...but to my ears the Tsunami wins hands down. Yes adding sound is a cost factor...but i have been hooked since the conversion of my first 44 class. It just brings the layout alive. I have repeated myself time & time again...but the only issue i see with sound fitment is the lack of fundamental info available & while this might sound provocative...some of the sound "experts" spend too much time & effort trying to fabricate high tech waffle rather than help the novice with the basics...I guess any techno stuff attracts the people who want to be self important...I must also stress again that the DecoderPro software has made the learning curve a lot more gentler....It may be that a bit more time should be spent on sound install postings on the blog to help people along with the conversions rather than a battering with CV jargons etc on some dedicated sites...

      Regards & Thanks for the comment...


  2. Hi,
    Don here. This is my first attempt t "Blogging" so I am unsure what will happen. I am into sound and I wonder how the sugar cub might work in a 73 class??
    Any thoughts??


  3. Don,

    I think the sugar cube would be a great idea for a 73 class. The speaker is very small and while it does not put out a big sound...the 73 class was never a loud in my opinion a good choice.