Thomas the Tank Engine DCC Decoder Installations

  • HO by Bachmann
  • OO scale by Hornby
  • N scale by Tomix
  • O scale by Lionel
  • and surprisingly, S scale by Putt Trains

Here are some DCC solutions for Thomas the Tank Engine...

  • 01 of 07

    HO/OO Installation

    Train Buddy shows you how to install a DCC decoder in a Bachmann HO or Hornby OO Thomas engine. If you're not up to the task yourself, Train Buddy will sell you one with a DCC decoder already installed.

    I am not affiliated with Train Buddy, and have not received anything from them in consideration for writing about them here.

  • 02 of 07

    N Scale Installations

    These N scale trains are tiny and, because they are steam locomotives, they have delicate linkages. Consequently, these installations are not for beginners. However the first of the two presented below isn't particularly difficult for an experienced DCC decoder installer.

    As Thomas isn't readily available in the U.S. you likely got yours from Plaza Japan. If you don't want to install a decoder yourself, take your Thomas engine to a hobby store that does DCC installations. Copy or print the URL of this page to give them, so that they can find the installation reference pages easily. No matter how experienced an installer is, he or she usually appreciates being able to read another installer's notes on a specific installation.

  • 03 of 07

    Tomix N Scale, External Motor Mechanism

    In this install Bill Chown uses a Digitrax DZ123 decoder. At the time of this writing the DZ123 decoder is still available, but it has been superseded by the Smaller DZ125. The DZ125 has the same electrical specifications as the DZ123 in a smaller package. If I were doing this install I would definitely use the smaller DZ125 or a comparably sized TCS M1 decoder.

  • 04 of 07

    Tomix N Scale, Enclosed Motor Mechanism

    My Thomas engine was more recently purchased, and has this enclosed mechanism. These install procedures by Michael Wong look to be particularly challenging. It requires you to completely disassemble the mechanism and solder to the frame. Michael uses a TCS M1 decoder. If Digitrax is your preference, which would be necessity if you happen to be running Digitrax' transponding, then go with the DZ125.

    Michael's instructions include soldering to the frame. If Tomix' frames are like frames from other manufacturers, then this may not be as easy as Michael makes it sound.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Enclosed Motor Mechanism, Soldering to the Frame

    If you've ever tried to solder a wire to the frame of an N scale locomotive, you know that the solder doesn't adhere easily. Where Michael tells you to grind the coating off of the frame to allow soldering, I'd not only grind off the coating, I'd also drill a small hole in the center of the ground off area to insert the end of the wire into. The solder "plug" in the hole is less likely to come loose than a blob of solder on the side of the frame. Be sure to do this soldering when you have the whole assembly apart. You don't want to accidentally drill all the way through and damage the plastic gears inside. Michael cautions about soldering quickly to avoid melting the gears, but if you solder with the gears removed you won't have to worry.

  • 06 of 07

    O Scale by Lionel

    In O scale the manufacturer of Thomas the Tank Engine trains is Lionel. For digital control Lionel uses their own proprietary TMCC and Legacy systems instead of DCC. At the time of this writing I have found no references to Thomas being outfitted with a TMCC decoder. If you have any information about anyone who does this, particularly links to "How-To" pages, please post the information in our O scale forum.

  • 07 of 07

    S Scale by Putt Trains

    This page shows how to install a Digitrax DN140 decoder in an S scale Thomas engine by Putt Trains. I am not familiar with Putt Trains, and the time of this writing the Putt Trains web site was off line. I have been unable to contact the company for more information.