Saturday, January 1, 2011

Digitrax DZ125 in a Kato F3/7B

The original Kato F3/7 mechanism requires frame modification to fit the decoder.  I always send mine to Aztec Manufacturing Co. in Carson City, Nevada.  They do a great job and the price is quite reasonable.  These are on an exchange basis and you will need to send them your original frame.   The Aztec part number for a milled frame for the Kato F3/7 is TM3008.

With the A units, there is a light board that can be used to connect the decoders red and black wires to the frame but what about the B units that don't come with a light board ?  Here is the method that I use.

Start by drilling a hole with a #50 bit just behind the pocket on each half of the frame. Drill to a depth about half way through the frame.  The hole should not hit the hole already in the frame that is for the screw that holds the frame halves together.

I use a small table top drill press that I purchased from Micro Mark.  Because the fuel tank part of the frame would make it hard to hold the frame square, I use a scrap of plywood to support the rear part of the frame.

Then tap each hole with a 2-56 tap.  Kadee part number 246 includes both the drill and the tap.

The motor brush to frame contacts that are in each Kato engine made great electrical mounting rings.  I find them handy for a number of projects and  save all of the I remove when doing installations.
This is the method I use to remove the motor brush to frame contacts on all Kato locomotives. Lay the motor on edge on a flat surface.  Using a flat blade jewelers screw driver, gently pry the brush holder up using the edge of the motor housing as the fulcrum. 
Cut the wires of the decoder to the following lengths:
Red / Blk / Yel / Blu / Wht = 1-9/16"
Gray = 1-5/16"
Orange = 1-7/8"

Solder the removed brush caps to the orange and gray wires, and the removed brush to frame contacts to the red and black wires.

Re-assemble the motor brushes with the decoder wires now attached to the brush caps.

Then place the motor, worm gears, and bushings into the right side of the frame.  Lay the orange motor wire into the slot on the right side of the frame that has milled for this purpose.  Take special care that the motor mounting rings are seated correctly into the frame.  Last install the two black shoulder washers.
Connect the left side of the frame together with the right side again being careful to correctly seat the motor mounting rings.  Then install the nuts and bolts that hold everything together.  Lay the decoder in the pocket that's milled into the top of the frame, attach the red wire ring to the the hole on the right side frame and the black wire ring to the hole on the left side frame with 2-26 flat head screws.  Lay the wires out flat in the milled groove down the middle of the frame and secure with scotch tape as needed.


  1. Hi Where did you get the motor brush to contacts for the kato motor please

    1. Hi Kenn,

      The brushes, springs, and caps come as a set from Kato USA. The part number is 927010. The brushes and springs will work on all N scale motors while the caps will work on most Kato motors.


  2. Will the wiring set up for the Kato F3 F7 B from 1-1-11 work for the A unit? Just hooking light wires to the light board?