The number one tip for successful DCC upgrades

loco servicing

Want great running DCC conversions of your analogue trains? He’s an often overlooked tip that will dramatically improve DCC conversion performance.

This tip has nothing to do with soldering.

Or the selection of decoders. You won’t be reading about Lenz, Digitrax, Hornby or Gaugemaster here.

Neither does it involve programming CVs.

No, this tip is about preparation — before you even start on the DCC modification itself.

Simply put: make sure your DC (analogueue) engine is working flawlessly, and in both directions, before the fitting DCC chip.

To explain.  If a loco doesn’t work well on analogueue, it’ll work poorly — perhaps even worse — on DCC.

And before anyone comments… Yes, fitting DCC to a previously analogue motor will generally improve its slow running performance but I’m talking about the basic motor function. Starting, stopping and smooth running in both directions. If your locomotive struggles with basic operation, DCC won’t help and you’ll get disappointing digital operation.

As such, my tip is to always service locos before DCC upgrades. Since I started doing this the quality of my DCC running experience has improved no end.

In particular, focus on the electrical path from the track to the motor so the electricity and DCC signals pass without interruption from the track to the circuitry and back.

I’ve covered servicing before so I won’t dwell on it here. But clean the wheels, the pickups, wiring connections, the motor brushes and return path.

If you do this you’ll get much better performance from your DCC upgrade.

Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.

Add Comment

Required fields are marked *. Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.