Train watching is a common adventure for Brendan and I, catching Amtrak trains however is a extreme rarity. Matter of fact Brendan had only ever seen one Amtrak train and that was in Altoona, PA. This was fixed by watching the Railstream.net's Chesterton, Indiana feed of Norfolk Southern's Chicago mainline. Every night at around 8:30 Amtrak's #30, the Capitol Limited, passes through at about 80 mph. Inspired by regularly seeing Amtrak trains, Brendan purchased his first Superliner passenger car back at the Kirkland Train Show in March to start his version of Amtrak's Capitol Limited.
With Brendan's birthday around the corner I started hunting for good deals on Superliner cars and an Athearn AMD-103 engine to complete a small train. Luckily the search didn't take long to find an engine and 5 cars for an extremely reasonable price.
The only work I needed to do was add one of the Soundtraxx mobile decoders I bought at the Kirkland show to the Amtrak engine. Easy right? Nope, the engine I got was one of the early non-DCC ready models. No wonder it was a good deal! This was the first time I had made anything DCC ready but it was easier than I feared. I just isolated the motor and added some feeders to the trucks like all the online guides suggested. I also took things one step further and added 2mm LED lighting for the headlights, ditch lights and the red marker lights as well.
Here's a few pictures of the install.
|Front headlights, ditch lights and marker lights|
|Rear Headlights and marker lights.|
|Full test before attaching the shell.|
|Forward has the front headlights on and rear marker lights active. Ditch lights are programmed to alternately flash when the horn (F2) is pressed (this is a non-sound Soundtraxx decoder).|
|Reverse activates the front red markers and the rear headlight.|