Friday, January 15, 2016

TCS MT1500 in a Life Like SW8

For quite a few years Life Like had offered N scale models of the EMD SW8, SW9, and SW1200 switch engines in many road names.  These were never decoder friendly, and have always been one of the more challenging models to do an installation on.  In 2011 I posted in the blog about installing a TCS Z2 in a Life Like SW9/1200 and it's been the most popular post.

A few years ago the Life Like line was acquired by Walthers, and it appears that Walther's has discontinued production of this model.  More recently Micro-Trains released a model of the SW1500  which is using a very similar mechanism to the one used on the Life Like models.

Shortly after Micro-Trains released the SW-1500 switcher model, Train Control Systems came out with a decoder for it called the model MT1500.

I wanted to see if  this new decoder would also work on one of my Life Like SW8's that had not yet received a decoder.

The first challenge in this installation is to remove the body from the mechanism without damaging the contacts that are attached to the inside of the body.
To do this I made a set of 4 shims as shown in this photo.  The shims are shown here with a ruler as a size comparison.

The shims are inserted between the frame and body at the points shown in this photo.  Then the frame can be carefully removed from the body.  It helps to first remove the cab section and weight, then the frame can be pushed out from above.

The MT1500 decoder does not come with any wires because the installation in the Micro-Trains SW1500 uses the wires that are already in the locomotive.  Scraps of wire left over from other wired decoders were soldered to the motor contact clips after they were cut down to the sizes shown in this photo.

After re-attaching the motor contact clips to the motor and installing the saddle the assembly should look like this.  The orange wire is laying is a small groove that I had filed in plastic body of the motor.

 After re-assembling the mechanism it should look like this photo.  The wires from the motor will plug into the sockets on the decoder board.  Lay the wires down flat as shown so they won't get pinched when the body in put on the mechanism.

The SW1500 decoder has a tiny LED headlight which operates as function F0 which is great.  It also has the option of connecting another light or LED to some very tiny contacts on the decoder board.

If you are up to trying to solder wires to these then this could be programmed for a rotary beacon or mapped to function F0 in the reverse to add a headlight on the back of the cab.

After getting the body back on the mechanism it's good to check the coupler height on both ends to insure the body is on correctly.  I had no problems with mine.  This was the easiest installation on one of these models I've done.  The MT1500 is a welcomed addition to the TCS line of decoders.

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