roll_the_dice posted:

Thanks @AGHRMatt ... I have some newer MTH cars that have the pads and Iam compiling a list of items I need to convert them.  Do you buy the scale trucks or just change out the wheelsets?

It depends. On my Centerbeam cars, I changed out the trucks from the MTH 3-rail to Weaver plastic trucks with Intermountain 33" steel wheels. On a pair of MTH gondolas, I switched the trucks out for MTH 2-rail trucks which gave the cars the correct ride height, then installed Kadee 740 couplers. On another car, I used the MTH hi-rail trucks with Intermountain wheels. It really depended on what I had in the parts bin at the time and which would be easier for the particular situation. Replacement trucks can get expensive, but the new MTH trucks are a pain to disassemble/reassemble. I'm looking at the newer Atlas 2-rail trucks which have the adapter plug for use with MTH cars. I have a project in the pipe -- converting two strings of MTH Gunderson cars to 2-rail. For now, each string is a massive "transition car" with a Kadee on one end of the string and the hi-rail coupler on the other with the hi-rail wheels still in place since I run them at the club (like I said, I'm operating in both worlds right now).

Matt Jackson
"The best service you can provide for the hobby is to pass on what you have learned."

 Angels Gate Hi-Railers San Pedro, California

"Celebrating over 20 years of moving freight and passengers from Point A to Point A!"

YouTube Channel

It’s easy to convert some MTH and Lionel rolling stock to 2-rail. A good example is the Lionel PS-2 2 bay covered hopper. It has excellent detail and is pretty light.


I used Atlas 70T roller bearing trucks and Kadee 743’s to do this conversion.

Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.


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@Pete M  Thanks!  I appreciate your thoughts.  I "think" I hae taked myself into getting the ESU DCC system...I like the price with the amount of AMPs I will get, plus I like that wifi is all they offer (I think).  The only way I will buy a decoder is if it is already in an engine.  So if I buy one, I will definitely get advice here.  You guys have given me great advice so far.

I have pretty much decided I am coming over to the 2 rail side and will be selling my 3 rail stuff that won't convert overor I won't need...Legacy 990, a couple of steam engines, etc.

I have a 180w Lionel brick...will that be useful on the 2 rail side?

Also, what is your guys prefered Kadee couplers or does it depend on the car you are converting?

@AGHRMatt @catnap I only have maybe 10-12 Scale freight cars...a few MTH, the rest Lionel.  Once I get home, I will check to see what they look like in terms of mounting pads.  I know the 2 Premier MTH I have have them.  They are both single dome tank cars.  There is the Lionel Central of Georgia caboose (6-27657) I will want to convert I looked at Atlas scale couplers with pickups for wiring the lighting and I assume the smoke unit will still work also.


Andy, as long as you're 100% sure the MCII throttle that comes with the ESU CabControl is running Andoid 6.x not 4.x as discussed, then you should find it works great. And yes, it's a WiFi throttle only. 

This way, you should be able to run any loco you buy that already has a DCC decoder in it, regardless of current draw. And you can probably find an older Weaver loco with a Pittman motor for a lot cheaper than a modern Atlas.

I'm not sure about the Lionel brick for 2-rail. The CabControl comes with the power supply, command station with booster and Wi-Fi inside, and one MCII throttle. Later you can add more ESU 7A boosters if needed, and they come with power supplies also.

Kadees come in "old" and "new" as well, like Atlas track. Old are in the 8xx series and have exposed jaw springs and are a bit less realistic-looking. The jaw springs are known to fly off during ops occasionally and you can never find them right away. They fly off so fast that they time travel into the future, so you will usually find them in the first place you looked, but only about a week later.  

But they work better on tight radii and are a bit easier to uncouple by hand with skewer etc.

The New are in the 7xx series. They look more realistic and the jaw spring is hidden, so they just work 100% of the time. However they don't have such a wide gathering angle as the Old, so not as reliable coupling under about 40" radius. 

804 and 805 are the "standard" old Kadee and 740 and 745 for the new. There are other versions with over and under shanks, longer reach, and short ones for P&D F Units.

The best combo for brass locos is metal coupler in a plastic box for insulation in case the brass shell is "live". Metal coupler in a metal box is good for mounting on plastic.

Pete M

Frying decoders since 1994

Hi there,

I'm a little late to the discussion. I'm using NCE 10 amp and have been for 10 years or more. It was easy to install and has worked flawlessly. This is for a 200 foot double track mainline with a long storage loop as well in a 24x26 space. I run some MTH engines as well as many others.

I keep the full variety of Kadee couplers on hand, old and new.

I also switched from 3 rail to 2 rail and it has been a totally new level of satisfaction.

I have a 10 amp NCE DCC system now with 4 10 amp boosters.  The first ones were powered by old fashioned iron core 180W transformers purchased from Tony’s Train Exchange (no longer offered).  For the newest booster install I purchased a second hand  Lionel 180W "brick" on eBay at a very nice price - works great.  Whatever DCC system you go for I would strongly encourage you not to rule out installing your own decoders later on as you gain experience - it is not hard at all.  Limiting your roster to only those locomotives with factory installed decoders unnecessarily narrows your field of play and in many cases comes at added cost.  

Ed Rappe           PRRT&HS 421

So I went to the train show yesterday!  Had a blast...I did not really buy engine and no DCC system.  I almost bought a Central Locomotive Works engine, but just couldn't pull the trigger.  It had TCS DCC with WOW sound.  Sounded good, ran good, just was unsure.  I kind of regret it now.  It was over my starter engine budget by about $50 and the guy wouldn't budge on price.  Oh and learn.  I will think about it and I am sure if I want it, I can find the seller.

The best part of the show were the people.  I met some GREAT people.  I did meet someone from Savannah, so we are going to get together and run some trains on his layout.  He doesn't have DCC (yet), but one of the things we talked about was trying to start on O scale 2 rail club in Savannah!  He said he knew of 1 or 2 more people in the area.   

I went in this as a fact finding mission and found out lots from you guys coupled (kadee) with the people I met at the show...I feel I have a better understanding of what I am looking for...and want to do.

I met @Brother_Love@atlpete, and @luvindemtrains to name a few.  Thanks for the hospitality guys and I look forward to your next show. 




@Pete M  Can you point me to the information you have seen about what ESU android version is out there?  I emailed a vendor and they said the latest version is 4.2.5.  I could not find any information on ESU's website or when I tried to google it...and I couldn't find an email address for ESU on their website..which actually kind of concerns me for support.


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